By Brian Scott Lipton . . .
Not every show lives up to its billing, but the 2021 Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes does – even if it’s a mouthful. Rarely has 21st-century technology been put to such jaw-droppingly good use. The giant state-of-the-art L.E.D. screen on stage provides one fabulous backdrop after another for much of the show, most notably Santa’s ride from the North Pole to Radio City (complete with 3-D imagery). Meanwhile, vivid projections of winter scenes and snowflakes constantly cover the vast hall’s walls and ceilings, adding even more visual delight to the proceedings.
But those computer-generated bells and whistles aside, the real secret to the enduring success of this one-of-a-kind show are those impossibly leggy dancers known as the Radio City Rockettes. From their very first number, the smile-inducing “Sleighride,” these dazzling artists show off their unworldly precision in number after number.
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite from the clever, tap-oriented arrangement of “The Twelve Days of Christmas, the enchanting “New York at Christmas,” the brilliantly timeless “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” the delightful “Outside the Box,” or the balletic “Snow,” which has been resurrected for this year’s edition. And even though these ladies show off their famed “kick-line” over and over, it never fails to get applause.
While the Rockettes are the star attraction, they’re not the only reason for attending the Spectacular. The show smartly utilizes the talents of dozens of dancers, singers, musicians, and even ice skaters! One standout is the remarkable young ballerina who shares the stage with those adorable dancing bears in the charming “Clara’s Dream” sequence, set to that gorgeous music from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.” And one absolutely can’t downplay the importance of Santa Claus, who acts as our genial guide throughout the 90-minute show.
And even if you’re not religious (or Christianity is not your religion), “The Living Nativity” – a brief re-telling of the night of Jesus Christ’s birth — is so full of ultra-colorful pageantry (including those famed live camels) and inspiring Christmas music that you’ll still be enchanted by this landmark sequence. Indeed, it’s just one reason why this holiday tradition remains a must-see event for tourists and natives alike.
The Christmas Spectacular is running now through January 2 at Radio City Music Hall. Tickets are on sale at www.rockettes.com/christmas and at the Radio City box office.
Photos: Courtesy of MSG Entertainment