The marvelous multimedia Radio City Christmas Spectacular®, produced by Madison Square Garden Entertainment and playing now through Nov. 27th at the Durham Performing Arts Center, is a truly spectacular blend of crisply choreographed live-action song-and-dance numbers and seamlessly integrated rear-screen video projections. The high-kicking Radio City Rockettes® are the main attraction, but there is plenty of talent up and down the bill.
Act I highlights include a frisky “Sleighride” from the Big Apple to the Bull City, with the Rockettes donning reindeer antlers, swallowtail coats, and sequined tights to pull Santa’s sleigh; a mood-setting “Overture” in which the Radio City Singers croon “Happy Holidays,” “White Christmas,” etc.; a terrific tap-dance rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” with the Rockettes providing the snap, crackle, and pop; a zany episode from “The Nutcracker”; and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular’s signature segment “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.”
Then the Radio City Rockettes board a full-size double-decker bus for a jaunty Yuletide tour of “New York at Christmas,” driving through Central Park and concluding in neon-lit Times Square.
Act II highlights include a hilarious “Here Comes Santa Claus” segment in which Old St. Nick magically multiplies into hundreds of sidewalk and shopping-mall Santas. In “Magic Is There,” Santa (Brent Bateman) transports two young boys — cynical 14-year-old Patrick and his little brother Ben — who are looking for a very special Christmas present for their sister, but have no money, from Times Square to the North Pole. Then Radio City Singers create some “Christmas Memories” for the DPAC audience, and the Radio City Rockettes sparkle in “Let Christmas Shine.”
“The Living Nativity” recreates the angels’ appearance to the shepherds and the Adoration of the Magi, using live animals such as sheep and camels. Then “Joy to the World” provides a big finish for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, complete with indoor fireworks that fire streamers into the audience.
Director and choreographer Linda Haberman staged the original production of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with great gusto and imagination, and the vivacious musical staging of associate director and choreographer Julie Branam and assistant director and choreographers Melinda Farrell and Mark Burrell make this traveling version of Radio City Christmas Spectacular a real crowd-pleaser, made even more memorable by the backstage contributions of scenic designer Patrick Fahey, lighting designer David Agress, costume designers Gregg Barnes and Pete Menefee, and sound designer Daniel Gerhard. Don’t miss it!
SECOND OPINION: Nov. 3rd Durham, NC Herald-Sun previews and Nov. 13th review, all by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/16273318/article-Kicking-it-with-the-Rockettes-?instance=main_article, http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/16273121/article-Want-to-be-a-Rockette-?instance=main_article, and http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/16407066/article-Review–Rockettes-kick-off-holiday-season?instance=main_article (Note 1: You must register first to read this article); Nov. 9th Durham, NC Independent Weekly preview by Craig D. Lindsey: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/chapel-hills-summer-renner-talks-about-living-the-rockette-dream/Content?oid=2700062; and Nov. 6th Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Elizabeth Shestak: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/11/06/1618866/for-rockettes-triangle-show-is.html. (Note 2: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Nov. 10th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/11/radio-city-christmas-spectacular-brings-christmas-and-the-rockettes-to-dpac-on-nov-10-27/.)
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR, Starring The Rockettes, at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17; 2, 5, and 8 p.m. Nov. 18; 11 a.m. and 2, 5, and 8 p.m. Nov. 19; 12, 3, and 6 p.m. Nov. 20; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22 and 23; 2, 5, and 8 p.m. Nov. 25; 11 a.m. and 2, 5, and 8 p.m. Nov. 26; and 12 and 3 p.m. Nov. 27 at DPAC, in the American Tobacco District, at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701):
TICKETS: $35-$116 (including fees).
DPAC Box Office: 919/680-ARTS (2787), email@example.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events/how_to_buy_tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800/745-3000, 919/834-4000, or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/1438077.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
VIDEO PREVIEW: http://www.radiocitychristmas.com/nationaltour/index.html#about.
The Show: http://www.radiocitychristmas.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_City_Christmas_Spectacular (Wikipedia).
The Tour: http://www.radiocitychristmas.com/nationaltour/index.html (official web page).
Radio City Music Hall: http://www.radiocity.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_City_Music_Hall (Wikipedia).
The Radio City Rockettes®: http://rockettes.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rockettes (Wikipedia).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.