opening day and other stuff   2 comments

HOORAY! The show is up and running, and what a show it is!!! It is absolutely amazing. Hard to describe or capture, but I will try! From the time the curtain goes up to reveal the Rockettes’ dancing legs to when it comes down on the gorgeous nativity scene, it is non-stop color, light, sound, movement, music, glitz, glamour and JOY! I have seen the show four times now, and I don’t think I’m going to be bored with it anytime soon.
Santa starts things off with a song inviting the audience to come on a sleigh ride. Our Santa is a slender, low-key, soft-spoken, kind-hearted person, who is married to a Rockette (performing in NYC this year) he met doing this very job! Onstage I never would have known it was him, as he is beefed up in the Santa suit and has a big, booming, LOW singing and stage voice. One thing I love about his portrayal of Santa is that instead of SAYING “Ho! Ho! Ho!” he actually really laughs and just makes it sounds like he’s a person who laughs to the sound of ho ho ho instead of ha ha ha.
The next big dance number is the 12 Days of Christmas, and the Rockettes wear these red and white striped costumes so they basically look like sexy dancing candy canes. Their dancing is so precise and so awesome. Every time I watch them I want to take dance classes!! (hey, stop laughing, I can hear you)
Next is the big Clara dance scene, and watching our little girls go out onstage and dance so beautifully chokes me up every time. You can practically feel the longing of every little girl in the audience to be CLARA! This is where all the dancing bears come in, and they are magnificent. The dancers and choreography in this show shine through even when the performers are wearing furry suits and gigantic bear heads. And of course the leading bear – who wears a pink tutu and a tiara and has huge eyes that really blink – is none other than Calvin Cooper. He’s PERFECT and lifts Clara as if she could practically float right out of his arms. (Which she practically could…. the costumers had to change the tutu costume this year because both of our Claras have smaller bottoms than any other Claras before them and the costume was looking a bit like a diaper on them. Yep. I have that problem ALL THE TIME, my bottom being far too tiny for my clothes. It’s a burden, but somehow I go on.)
Let’s see… I think the soldiers come next. Eighteen Rockettes (it’s 36 in NYC) dressed identically like toy soldiers, moving in lockstep, stepping in and out of these amazing formations right before your eyes. I LOVE that number. It ends with a slow-motion fall where they collapse against one another like a stack of dominoes.
After that comes the storyline involving the brothers. Oh, except first is “New York at Christmas” where they bring a BUS onstage (yes, I know, it’s a prop, but still! A bus!) and the Rockettes hang in and out and all over it very prettily, and there are these amazing projections behind it that make it look like the bus is driving through the streets of New York. They even duck to go under a bridge at one point. And they get honked at for being too slow.
The projections are a huge element of the show, giving it texture and depth in some unexpected ways and allowing it to travel through time and space in a way that it couldn’t otherwise. Like everything else, they’re beautifully done – the visual and audio quality is top-notch.
Also I’ve neglected to tell about the Radio City Singers, six of them, who kind of help narrate the show in song. They aren’t onstage all the time, but when they come out, they sing these rich, textured harmonies that I just love. Their voices are great together – it’s one unified, layered sound, and every now and then you’ll get just a little sample of an individual voice popping out a bit here or there, which I love.
There is a NYC at Christmas street scene – that’s where the ensemble dancers come in. Last night I got to sit close enough to really see and appreciate some of their individual scenarios. Some are carrying gifts, some are on cell phones, some are shopping, they are in twos and threes and sometimes just an individual here or there. They all have lots of “business” to do, and I am going to enjoy watching more closely to get it all figured out. Last night I noticed that a male dancer and a female dancer meet in the middle of the stage and the boy gives the girl his scarf. It’s a sweet little moment in the midst of a frenzy of activity.
At the end of the street scene, the brothers come on, looking for a present for their little sister. The younger brother is of course swept up instantly in the magic of Christmas and Santa, and a gazillion dancing Santas onstage (big dance number in SANTA SUITS. I can’t even imagine how hot those poor dancers are under there) only underscore his belief.
But the older brother is a doubter and a skeptic. You can see where this is going… a whirlwind ride on a blizzard completely covers the first few rows of audience members in snow and also delivers the brothers to the North Pole, where they enter what appears to be a tiny hut but turns out to be a huge warehouse of dancing rag dolls. I LOVE THE RAG DOLL NUMBER. It’s a tap number, and the choreography is really cute, and at some point each of the ragdolls gets a colorful wooden box that they dance with and even tap on with their feet. At the end they hold them up high to spell a holiday message that is NOT degahezbexalajedreg or whatever I thought it was in Myrtle Beach. (although at one of the rehearsals the boxes spelled “RERYM CHRISTMAS” which is also not the message)
The older brother is very sweetly re-convinced of his childhood belief in the magic of it all and sings “Magic is There.” Both of our Patricks are so fantastic and each brings his own touch to the role. Both of them just totally nail that song. They both have warm, heart-achey teenage boy voices that have just the right mix of Broadway and pop elements. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them and their song to bits.
Then there is a fun little review of Rockette history, done through the projections. That’s the part I will get bored of. 🙂
Then the Let Christmas Shine song comes back – lots of harmony and very addictive song. Everyone associated with the show seems to always be humming that song, and we’re all starting to get a little tired of it! It’s great onstage with the sparkly costumes and the lights and the fabulous harmonies – but offstage it is a major earworm.
After that is the nativity scene, which is stunning. Gorgeous costuming, beautiful lighting, simple and stately choreography. Very somber and inspiring and lovely.
Then comes Joy to the World, which is a little bit too American-Idol-y for my taste, but boy do they kill it out there! The voices are really something. After singing for 90 minutes, they still have the vocal chops to do these soaring, cascading embellishments around the melody and they ALWAYS land in the right place.
Then comes the curtain call, and even though the show is really all about the Rocketters, we moms LOVE it when our kids come out there in their cute Christmas outfits to take their bows. Yes. We go a little nuts. So sue us. THOSE ARE OUR KIDS UP THERE ON A GIGANTIC STAGE IN FRONT OF TONS OF PEOPLE!!!!! It’s just kinda cool.
OK I’ve written all this about the show and I still haven’t captured it at all, really. There is a SLEIGH! And SANTA! And a BUS! And SNOW! And DANCING BEARS! And colored streamers that shoot out at the audience! And a zillion costume changes! And incredible choreography performed by gorgeous, long-legged dancers! And the three kings! And silver-white light bouncing off of sequined costumes!
You just gotta see it. Y’all come!!!!!


Posted November 11, 2010 by itsjustastage in Uncategorized

2 responses to “opening day and other stuff

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  1. It sounds incredible! So how many people are in the cast on one evening show? And are all the parts double cast?

  2. I LOVED reading this account of the show.. except for when I got to the “Then the Let Christmas Shine song comes back”.. because just incase you were worried that in two years you would miss that song, you won’t.. and it is now stuck in my head and I have been singing it for hours, hahaha!!!

    so fun to relive the show through your post though since it’s not coming to Detroit this year! the show has definitely scaled down since the first Arena two years ago (if Coop had been on that one he would have gotten to FLY over the audience!!! and there was ice skating.. and the nativity actually had LIVE animals– several sheep, two camels, and a donkey!) but even now, it still has the same joy and magic, and I’m so glad that you and Cooper get to be apart of it!!!!!!!

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