Living in New York, the Monday before Christmas was always special. That was the day we went into the city to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. For 16 years, the experience started in August when tickets went on sale.
The best seats (as far as we were concerned) were the center seats in the front row of the mezzanine. The Christmas show is a spectacular revue, starring the Radio City Rockettes. The famed theater seats over 5,000, and the best place to take in the precision dancing is from a distance, but with nobody blocking the view. And the only way to be assured of those seats is to buy them the same day they go on sale.
I left New York in 2001, and have not been back. So, when I heard the national tour was coming to Birmingham, I was thrilled. Not so thrilled, however, that I bought tickets the same day they went on sale. But no worries, there were plenty of seats still available a week before the show.
One of the great things about the show is it's focus on every imaginable aspect of Christmas. From the Nativity to the Nutcracker to Dicken's Christmas Carrol, to Santa and his reindeer, to Silver Bells and toy soldiers, to Christmas in New York (complete with real ice skaters). I remember that whatever my mood when I walked through the big doors, I was ready for the holiday by the time the last camel had walked across the stage. They use all the latest technology and you leave scratching your head, "how'd they do that?"
The show changes every year. Some scenes come out, and new ones are added. Some (like the toy soldiers) are classic, and remain, even after 75 years. After the performance (started at 6 pm, lasted exactly 80 minutes), we'd go out to dinner in New York and talk about the parts we liked, the parts we missed that were not included in this year's show, and the parts we hoped they'd take out next year.
It had been eight years since I last saw the show, and I was not expecting some of the "over the top" technology to be included in the touring version. Like I remember from years past, it was different and there were parts I missed. They changed the songs from the Christmas in New York, but added a cool 3-D moving backdrop so the stationary bus the Rockettes performed on looked like it was really moving through the streets of New York. The Rockettes as dancing Santas was also pretty neat, as they performed in sync with many more Santas projected on the back of the stage. Amazing.
They kept the ice skaters, even on tour. And the toy soldiers. And the living nativity complete with live camels, sheep and a donkey.
I missed the "One Solidary Life" at the end of the show the most, and wish they'd lose the rag doll scene, the 12 Days of Christmas, and "Joy to the World."
So Merry Christmas, and if you get a chance to see the show, enjoy it. It will definitely put you in a holiday mood.