The “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” may star the Rockettes, but the show features a lot more talent than just the esteemed dancers.
The holiday show opened its 18-day, 34-show run at the Omaha Orpheum Theatre Thursday. The shows include the “Radio City Singers,” actors, additional dancers and, of course, the Rockettes. Omaha is one of three cities – New York and Houston are the others – that will host the holiday show.
If you’ve never seen the Rockettes perform, you should put it on your Bucket List. The show was outstanding. It was more than just a platform for the women in the dance crew to do high kicks. It told the story of the holiday, with both commercial and religious undertones.
Prior to the show, the public was invited to the theater’s lobby as Santa Claus welcomed the Rockettes to Omaha. A group of children were invited to join the dancers on the staircase.
The show opens, of course, with an outstanding dance number. The 18 women are amazing to watch, as they make every move in sync with the others. Rachel Borgman, a Rockette from Norfolk (NE), said during a preshow visit that the dancers start rehearsals in late September.
Santa Claus is featured in the opener – “Sleigh ride” – with the Rockettes dressed as reindeer. The dance number presents the first opportunity for fans to see the famous high kicks. The show features about 3,400 kicks by the dancers (300 each). Santa and his “reindeer” take off from the magical Northern Forest for…Omaha!
Costume changes are quickly done between scenes. Meanwhile, the audience is entertained with song and dance by the Radio City Singers and other dancers.
The Rockettes perform a tap dance to “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It was amazing to sit a few rows away and see the action going on stage. You could hear their shoes actually hit the stage floor in unison. It was an entertaining act.
“The Nutcracker” allowed for some ballet moves by a young girl. She danced with teddy bears and mice. The dancers wore the costumes. It was impressive that people can move so easily in the outfits they wore as the toys.
An even more impressive performance followed with “The March of the Wooden Soldiers.” The Rockettes were dressed as toy soldiers. They marched in step out of a guardhouse. Their moves on the stage again were mind boggling when you realize they were looking toward the audience for a good portion of the dance.
The end of dance was interesting. A cannon is “fired” and each dancer slowly falls back – like dominoes – until they get to about the 12th person, and then it speeds up. The precision and skill exhibited was truly entertaining.
“New York at Christmas” included most of the cast. The Rockettes boarded a tour bus wearing short white coats and matching hats to “tour” The Big Apple. In front of them, performers danced and sang, as they acted like New Yorkers hustling down the busy streets.
The tour bus actually moves in front of a 50-foot LED screen, featuring scenes from the city. The Rockettes dance sitting down on the top level of the bus. The dancers on the first level of the bus dance standing up and leaning out the windows. The bus will actually put on 14 miles during the 34 shows in Omaha.
At the end of the dance, the Rockettes lose the coats and hats and are wearing alternate red and green outfits to finish the performance.
Ever wonder why there are so many Santa Clauses at the mall or in front of other stores? Well “Here Comes Santa Claus” sort of answers that question – through dance.
Santa Claus meets a couple of young boys – one who strongly believes in Santa and his older brother, who doubts Santa – in search of the perfect Christmas gift for their sister. Since the older brother doubts he’s really Santa, the jolly old elf shows the kids how he can be in multiple places at one time by taking them to the North Pole and…then multiple Santas start appearing from behind stage. First a couple, then more and more. Eventually, the stage is full of Rockettes dancing as Santas. The large screen behind them adds hundreds more.
In the end, both boys realize Santa is magical. He even helps them understand that the “perfect” gift will find them. Then, the Rockettes perform “Christmas Memories” in costume as rag dolls.
One of Rachel Borgman’s favorite dances – she said during summer visit – is “Let Christmas Shine.” The Rockettes’ sparkly costume includes 300 Austrian crystals.
The show’s penultimate – Live Nativity – scene involves the story of the Three Kings, on their way to see the baby Jesus.
The show’s finale is a radio City Singers-led performance of “Joy to the World.”
The 90-minute performance was outstanding. The entire cast was entertaining. I recommend seeing the show while it’s here.
For more information on the show or additional productions, please visit www.omahaperformingarts.org/.
Disclaimer: Thank you to the Omaha Performing Arts for the complimentary tickets. However, all opinions and views are ours.