The Radio City Rockettes Christmas Gala is an annual Christmas musical show presented in New York City, USA. The main cast is women from the precision dance group Rockette, and since the first version was released in 1933, the show has become a New York Christmas tradition.
The Radio City Rockettes Christmas gala began in 1933 when Music Hall presented the latest Hollywood feature films in an elaborate live stage show. The parade of wooden soldiers, choreographed by Rockettes, a toy shop ballet, consists of a live performance of the musical “A Christmas Carol” and a musical version of “The Nutcracker,” in which live performances by over 100 actors, dancers, and musicians are choreographed. This show was conceived as a tribute to Radio City’s history of musical theater in New York City. It was the first major musical at the music hall since it opened in 1932 and the second largest in the world at the time.
The Christmas show was choreographed and produced by Leonidoff and Markert for Radio City, the tour version was released by the Roadsters. The final two scenes continued throughout the annual show, and the Christmas shows were re-staged – for television and radio.
The Rockettes, founded in St. Louis, where they were called the Missouri Rockets, returned home for the spectacle. The first Christmas Gala in Radio City was held on December 12, 1884, the day before the opening night of the Rockette’s first tour.
The original tour was presented in collaboration with the Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation and ran from 1994 – 2003. The successful show kicked off a national tour the following year and a new tour in 2005, consisting of the 2007 edition, which was played in selected theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Linda Haberman designed, choreographed, and updated this Christmas show for her 75th birthday.
In 2011, the series was called “The Rockettes” Magic Journey “and was filmed in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans. This edition of the show has now been filmed and is available on DVD from Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation.
The story of the 2011 program revolved around the Rockettes traveling through the North Forest to Humbug King’s Castle to steal toys from Santa’s workshop. The production included an updated 3DLIVE scene with live performances by the entire cast of the show, as well as a live performance of “The Magic Journey” in front of a live audience.
In 2012, a slightly modified version of “Rockettes Celebration” was released, which celebrated the Rockettes “85th anniversary with additional scenes. In 2014, Julie Branam was hired as director and choreographer for the Christmas gala, and the 3DLIVE scene was removed, but a number of Rag Dolls were restored and a traditional Easter parade with the Rockets was recorded. The story of two little boys trying to find Christmas presents for Ben and Patrick revolves around their search for a Christmas present for their mother.
New York Spring Spectacular
The show opened the New York Spring Spectacular, which was directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle and ran from March 12 to May 7, 2015. Derek Hough and Laura Benanti also appeared on the show as Rockettes, along with a number of other cast members from the Broadway production “Rockettes Celebration.”
After the New York Spring Gala ended, it was announced that the show would return the following year, but would move its spring run to the summer. Mia Michaels directed and choreographed the program, which was written by Douglas Carter Beane and is now called “New York spectacles,” and ran from June 15 to August 7, 2016. He is due to return in summer 2017, then again in autumn 2017.