Yep, I said it before and I’ll say it again – I love Christmas. Every year I try to see one Christmas show that will satisfy my huge Christmas spirit. And every year I am anywhere from slightly to WOEFULLY disappointed – usually because someone pulls into town with an overblown, over-produced pile of Christmas fluff that just stabs you in the eye being “Christmas-y”. And anything that has “Spectacular”, or anything of that sort in the title, will generally make me run away as fast as my little elf boots will take me. And I know a lot of other people feel that way. But listen very carefully, folks, because that is decidedly not the case this year. I have just had my Grinch-y heart changed: you MUST run to the beautiful Peabody Opera House and see The Radio City Christmas Spectacular by MSG Entertainment, featuring the world-famous Rockettes!
It’s easy now to understand why New York’s Radio City troupe has had the undisputed title of being the Granddaddy of Christmas entertainment for the past 85 years – but never fear, this show is in no way creaky or dusty. There is enough electronic-enhanced magic in this show to make you want to jump up out of your seats. But as entertaining as all the technology is, the real spectacle here is a troupe of 21 beautiful, talented, highly-synchronized girls called the Rockettes. They sparkle – often literally – whether as Santa’s reindeer, complete with light-up antlers; as spunky little Christmas ragdolls shooting streamers into the audience; or in all their glitz and glamour glory, as simply.. the lovely Radio City Rockettes.
The production, directed and staged to perfection by Julie Branam (based on the original production directed and choreographed by Linda Haberman) is helped tremendously by an incredible, crystal clear projection screen that provides stunning backdrops to all of the numbers. The ingenious use of motion picture technology during the Act I closer “New York at Christmas”, where the Rockettes board a “double-decker bus” and tour the city, is in itself worth the price of admission. But thanks to Branam and company, there is so much more. Favorites include a rousing tap number to “The Twelve Days of Christmas” that even manages to sneak in some light-hearted jabs at Swan Lake and Riverdance; “Here Comes Santa Claus”, where Santa undeniably proves he can be everywhere at once; a live Nativity Scene ending in a gorgeous tableau; a flying Santa flanked by flying children; and “Let Christmas Shine” – which showcases our Rockettes in fabulous sequins, looking just like what we dreamed that the Rockettes would look. The girls are ably supported by a talented sextet of featured singers, as well as a small, well-rounded singing and dancing ensemble.
Before the show, a fella sitting next time me noticed my reviewer’s notebook, and noted that I didn’t seemed excited to be there. Admittedly, I probably wasn’t. He then just smiled knowingly and said “Well, you haven’t seen the Rockettes.” I think he must’ve been Santa, because boy, now I believe!