Pros: The Rockettes, the theater itself, the sets and scenery
Cons: difficult to get to seats, pricy
My husband and I recently took our two daughters to see the 75th Radio City Christmas Spectacular and in NYC and enjoyed a very nice start to our Christmas season. The following review is about the entire experience rather than just the show itself. I have attempted to break it down into sections so that a person interested in a particular piece of information will be able to find what they are looking for quickly.
When Can I see the Show at Radio City Music Hall in NYC?
The Christmas Spectacular returns to Radio City Music Hall every year in November and runs through December 30th. The 2007 season runs from November 9th through December 30th with many shows offered each day. The show runs seven days a week with performances multiple times during the day. I am not sure if there are more performances this year because of the anniversary or not but currently most weekdays the show runs at 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm. Weekend shows are at 9am, noon, 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm. Because of the variety of showtimes and vastness of the theater tickets are relatively easy to get. However, if you want specific seats and prices I strongly suggest ordering as early as possible.
Tickets for the 2007 season went on sale on April 22, 2007 and I would imagine they open about the same time each year. I bought our tickets in September expecting my choice of seats and was disappointed to find that I was unable to get aisle seats in the orchestra or first mezzanine section of the theater for any of the weekday matinee performances in November. We did get nice seats without a problem though.
There are three ways to order tickets for the show. If you are in the city and are able the best thing to do is visit the box office and get your tickets in person. They will show you a detailed seating chart and help you select the best seats in your price range. You will also avoid the $10.45 convenience charge ticketmaster adds to each seat if you order online or by phone. The box office is open from 11:30am until 6pm Monday through Saturday.
If you cannot order tickets in person you may order online or by phone and have your tickets mailed to you, print them at home (I believe there is a charge for this) or have your tickets held at the box office. I ordered online and had our tickets mailed to us. It was done efficiently and I got a confirmation e-mail and another e-mail when they were shipped. As I mentioned before there is a convenience charge of $10.45 per ticket for this service. I suggest ordering tickets online rather than by phone so that you can choose your seats using the interactive seating chart available.
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is always on the expensive side but it seems the prices of tickets can vary greatly based on seating and date/time. Shows before Thanksgiving are slightly less expensive as are shows early in the day and during the week. I did a lot of research before purchasing our tickets and was able to find some discount codes online. I paid just under $60 per ticket for orchestra seating for the 11am performance the Thursday before Thanksgiving. Group rates are also available. The prices I found varied anywhere from $40 for 3rd mezzanine seating to $250 for premium seating at a peak performance so definitely do your research.
If you have never been to Radio City Music Hall you the theater itself is something to experience. Opened originally in 1932 by John D. Rockefeller, it is the largest indoor theater in the world. The marquee takes up an entire city block. One of the most interesting things about the theater is that it was built for the masses but there are no columns to obstruct views of the stage. The music hall boasts that every seat is a good seat.
Because the theater holds so many people I would strongly suggest arriving early for your selected performance. Lines to get into the building can wrap around the block and although they move quickly are still a bit difficult to navigate. My one complaint about my recent experience at Radio City Music Hall was the lack of organization with getting people to their seats in a quick and efficient manner. We arrived at the theater before the doors opened (about 10:20 for an 11:00 show). We were instructed at the front door to walk around the block and wait on the other line. I believe this was because we were not with a tour group. The crowd to get around the building was extreme but organized. The doors to the theater opened at 10:30 and we went to wait on line for the 2nd floor ladies room. I waited about 10 minutes with my girls to use the bathroom and during that time my husband checked our stroller at the stroller check. Therefore we still had more than 20 minutes to make it to our seats before the show was scheduled to begin. There were very few ushers and the theater is difficult to navigate by yourself. It took us the entire 20 minutes to get to our seats just as the show was beginning.
On a positive note the theater is absolutely beautiful and was totally renovated in 1999 to bring it back to its original opulence. It was truly a site that my four year old will remember for years to come.
The Rockettes and the Show itself:
I do not think that there is anything at all negative that could be said about the 75th Radio City Christmas Spectacular. It truly is well named as the show is nothing short of spectacular. It had been more than 20 years since I last saw the show but many scenes were similar to those I remembered. The Rockettes are an amazing team of synchronized dancers starrring in many scenes throughout the show. They do a famous toy soldier dance which will delight audiences and another scene where they create a Christmas tree shape. There are numerous dance routines throughout the show but my favorite this year was the ones created especially for the 75th anniversary of the show. The Rockettes take you on a tour of NYC at Christmastime aboard a double decker bus. The effects are absolutely amazing as it seems they are really traveling through the city visiting the Rockerfeller Center tree, the ice rink, Times Square, the store windows etc. I was amazed at what could be done live on stage.
Other enjoyable scenes included scenes from the Nutcracker, a visit to the North Pole complete with flying children and snow, and of course the live nativity. I personally love that the show still ends with the reverence of the nativity scene. I was amazed at how something so over the top with sets, costumes, lighting, etc. could still be so reverent and a reminder of what Christmas is all about. My daughter loved the live animals on stage.
The show was a bit shorter than it has been in past years running for about an hour and 20 minutes with no intermission. This was a great amount of time for my children and I believe an intermission would have been difficult as there would really have been no way to get in and out of our seats with one.
If we lived a bit closer and the show was more affordable I would definitely make visiting Radio City a yearly Christmas tradition in my house but as it is we will probably attempt to go back in about 5 years.
This show is pricy but a great family experience. Shop around for the best tickets to suit your family and arrive at the theater in plenty of time for your performance. If you want to walk around and admire the theater I suggest doing so immediately after the performance rather than before as it was much less crowded and you wont have to worry about getting to your seats on time.