Radio City Music Hall

1260 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10020

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chconnol on November 29, 2004 at 2:07 pm

Vincent: hey, I was a kid and Mom paid admission so what did I care, right? In my mind, the Christmas show back then was excellent. It was a great thing to go see. We never got reservations and always got great seats OR we’d move to another section after the first show (or movie) to see it again even better. Best deal in the city by far. Yeah, I had to sit through some less than desirable movies (“Slipper and the Rose” stands out in my mind as one of the worst I had to endure) but the show and the Music Hall made it all worthwhile.

People today have asked me what I thought of the show and all I could think of was that it seemed like one of those shows you see at Disney World or such with much more exhorbitant admission price.

I’m not sure how events are booked at the Music Hall these days but whom ever is doing it probably doesn’t care about the quality as long as whatever the venue is, it brings in $$$. I know that it’s somehow tied into The Theater at Madison Square Garden now.

PGlenat on November 29, 2004 at 1:54 pm

Sadly, there is nothing ‘popular’ about todays prices…… the term usury comes to mind.

VincentParisi on November 29, 2004 at 1:26 pm

No CConnolly, $7 would have been considerd an outrageous admission price. Top general admission,including all of the orchestra from 70 to 76 would have been from $3 to $4. The Music Hall while still in its movie phase prided itself on popular prices(when was the last time you saw that term used?)

RobertR on November 29, 2004 at 1:23 pm

I think that when I saw The Promise in 1979, it was $5 for eve shows. I was there the last day.

chconnol on November 29, 2004 at 1:09 pm

Warren: not to sound cynical but the cut rate deals are often for off peak dates and/or times (typically before Thanksgiving or if after, for unpopular times like 9:00 AM or so…). I believe that after a certain point, every show is Peak and the discounts mean you get the dregs of the seating like the rear of the orchestra to the far right or left. I paid premium for the tickets because I used a certain credit card and was assured that they were great seats. They were mediocre at best. I can only imagine what the cut rate folks got.

Like RobertR says, during the 70’s, you could see the show any number of times for around $7. (I’m not sure of the exact price but I’m sure it wasn’t anything near to what I paid…)

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 29, 2004 at 12:11 pm

There are lots of cut-rate deals being offered. The Long Island Rail Road, for example, has one that gives a discount of 20% on RCMH tickets, plus FREE round trip transportation on the LIRR.

VincentParisi on November 29, 2004 at 12:04 pm

Robert I hate to tell you this but when I saw Scrooge with an elaborate Christmas show if you got there in the morning before 12 I believe it was $2 on a Saturday. A first run movie at the time was $3. Movies are now $10.50. That’s less than a 400 percent increase. Today to see the Christmas show it’s $100. That’s a 5,000 percent increase. And back then you could stay and watch it all over again! So the price of a Music hall ticket today is 10x’s more than it should be at current price standards.

RobertR on November 29, 2004 at 11:32 am

It’s hard to believe we now pay $100 for what we used to spend $5 for with a movie.

VincentParisi on November 29, 2004 at 11:32 am

They could do this for the Easter show and during the summer. Cut the stage show back to 45 to 50 minutes cutting out a lot of the annoying filler and utilize the old set designs and the old staging(if anybody around still remembers it.)At this point I assume all the old sets have been destroyed and all the old lighting charts as well. At Christmas of ‘69 the Colorama magazine in the Sunday Daily News had a two page color spread of the Nativity. It was one of the best photos I’ve seen of it. The powers that currently be should get a hold of it and see how it’s supposed to look. Their own poverty of imagination would stun them.

chconnol on November 29, 2004 at 11:30 am

Judging from how mediocre the Christmas show was, I could not agree with you more.

How amazing it would’ve been to have seen the shortened one that I remember so well (and saw every year when I was a kid) along with “The Spongebob Movie”!!! My daughter would’ve had a REAL treat.

Though she enjoyed the show overall, I could tell after 45 minutes or so, she was getting “itchy” as was I. Since there’s no story or anything, it’s hard to keep interested in one “spectacular” production number after another. There were at least three parts of it that I remember from when I saw it as a kid. The rest was filler to make people feel like they were getting their money’s worth.

RobertR on November 29, 2004 at 11:14 am

Since Radio City is no longer the exclusive movie house it once was, they could most definately play a film like “Lord of the Rings”, “Spongebob” or any Disney feature when it opens for general release. Put a stage show with it and charge $20.

chconnol on November 29, 2004 at 10:19 am

“If only there was a fair balance between the "crap” and classic movies. "

On that note, I will completely agree with you. I don’t think it would be difficult to imagine the Music Hall filling up if every now and then they showed worthwhile. And I don’t mean just classic films. My feeling is that if they had been able to premiere and show, say, “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” (very epic sized) it would have done pretty well. I for one would’ve loved to have seen it there. There are many times during the year where the offerings at RCMH are slim (not sure if it’s ever dark, though). But what movies do you think could or would fill up the Hall enough to warrant this? I don’t know anything about bookings and such so it would be hard to figure whether or not they’d be able to either make a profit or at least break even.

RobertR on November 29, 2004 at 10:14 am

If only there was a fair balance between the “crap” and classic movies.

chconnol on November 29, 2004 at 10:06 am

Well, I was there on Friday for the show and I hate to say Vincent’s right, but he is. They’re treating the place like it’s Madison Square Garden now. It’s still grand looking but it’s unique aspects that I remember (like the beautiful lounge) is not like it was. It’s got some of the art deco furnishings and such but whole areas are kept behind these partitions to store the overpriced krap souvenirs.

BUT….I think you have to understand the realities of a place like this now. In order for it to survive in some form, they have to do whatever they can to keep it going even if it means cheapening it’s heritage. Entertainment is not what it was 40 or 50 years ago. People don’t go to the movies like they used to even 20 years ago. Yeah, it’s a little nauseating when you think about “Dora the Explorer” playing the Music Hall and such. But it pays the rent and keeps the place alive. That is what we have to be thankful for.

VincentParisi on November 29, 2004 at 9:22 am

I saw about a half hour of the self congradulatory special last night. It was all I could take. The head of the Rockettes goes on and on about what wonderful troup they are. And so they are. But you can only see them once out of the year and only in the lousy Christmas show. Maybe she needs to think about when else they can be presented in New York. Once a year at the holidays just isn’t professional performing and an insult as well to a great NY institution. Also they need to find a stage producer who knows the capabilities of the stage. Having speakers throughout the auditorium is such a symptom of the stupidity that the current managers get away with.

chconnol on November 29, 2004 at 8:45 am

Just another thing: my daughter was VERY impressed with the Music Hall. She could not believe that at one time they regularly showed movies there. And she made one point that was good for an eight year old. She asked why they have those awful looking hanging speakers and light holders above and to the side of the stage. Once she said that, I had to totally agree. There’s one huge set of speakers that comes down from the arch directly above the stage. I know they had to do that for sound and the concerts but it looks awful and kills the effect of the sunrise (sunset?). Either way, my daughter loved the place and especially the two organists. That was a neat touch. I didn’t know they still used the organs.

chconnol on November 29, 2004 at 8:32 am

The RCMH’s underground boxoffice was only open when seats were available. As soon as the theatre reached capacity, it would be shut down, and you had to go up to the street and wait on line to get to the regular boxoffices. Underground, there was a mirrored corridor with a ticket taker at the end of it. You then entered into the theatre’s downstairs lounge, adjacent to the checkroom.
posted by Warren on Nov 22, 2004 at 4:19pm

I took my 8 year old daughter to see the Christmas show on Friday. We got to the theater a little early and went downstairs to the lounge. It seems a lot different than I remember it. Not as big but they did have these temporary partitions blocking off large sections of the lounge area. Behind them, they were storing the overpriced souvenirs they were hocking down there.

Anyway….regarding Warren’s comment about the passageway that led from the lower concourse to the lounge, it’s still there and I found it. It’s on the far side (southern) part of the lounge. It’s concealed by these temporary partitions and behind it are those souvenirs. I managed to work my way around them to get a decent look. It’s all still intact right down to the mirrors that Warren mentioned. The only thing is that at the far end, it does look sealed off except for a single door. So obviously the corridor is still intact just not used at all. Very interesting.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 28, 2004 at 7:50 pm

This is late notice but I just learned that there is a special one-hour program about Radio City Music Hall on WOR-TV (UPN network) tonight at 9:00pm.

veyoung52 on November 25, 2004 at 10:05 am

Answer to RobertR’s post this past September concerning films that played normally at the MH but were roadshown elsewhere. Add MGM’s 1960 “Cimarron” to the list. Played, to indifferent results, at the Hollywood Paramount (now El Capitan again) and Philadelphia’s Stanton, a Warner house not previously known for roadshows.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on November 24, 2004 at 9:37 am

Ben Hall worked for Time Magazine, not for The New York Times, though he did write some free-lance articles for that newspaper. Crowther seemed a logical choice to do the intro of “The Best Remaining Seats” because he was the most powerful and influential film critic in the USA at the time.

VincentParisi on November 24, 2004 at 8:43 am

The book is especially bittersweet as when it was written so many theaters were still standing in good condition including one of the 3 greatest the SF Fox. The epilogue of the book if I remember correctly is titled “An End to the Slaughter.” Well there was no end it just continued leaving us very few and some of those in perhaps non salvageable condition.

JimRankin on November 23, 2004 at 11:45 pm

Speaking of Bosley Crowther, it is interesting to note that he was selected to write the Introduction to the late Ben Hall’s landmark book THE BEST REMAINING SEATS, THE STORY OF THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE MOVIE PALACE. Maybe it was just because both Hall and Crowther worked for the TIMES, but then maybe Ben actually respected Bosley’s opinion of the significance of such and his book. Perhaps this lends pespective.

VincentParisi on November 23, 2004 at 4:37 pm

I read it years ago on microfilm. If your library has the Times on microfilm I believe you’ll find it in the Sunday edition after Millionaire opened. Maybe these old articles are available now on line? Also try to find Canby’s article on the Hall presentation of Singing in the Rain in ‘75. One of the best cinema experiences of my life as it was the first time I saw the film. I was seeing it exactly as people saw it in '52 and after seeing some truly bad early '70’s musicals at the Hall(it was as if they were made that bad on purpose. It couldn’t have been by accident) it was like being shot out of a canon.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 23, 2004 at 4:15 pm

Vincent, I know I’m a little lazy but do you have a link to that Crowthers' Art and Leisure piece?

chconnol on November 23, 2004 at 3:52 pm

Bosley Crowther’s reviews are some of the worst of all time. Check out his review of “Bonnie and Clyde” (you can read it online at NY The guy sounds like a wind bag. But he did like “Citizen Kane” though which I found interesting…