Radio City Music Hall

1260 6th Avenue,
New York, NY 10020

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Myron on December 25, 2015 at 4:44 am

I also saw Scrooge at Radio City & the sound indeed was awesome. I just had a traumatic incident in my life & seeing Scrooge relieved my depression. I think it was in Dec. 1970. The film never got the accolades it deserved. At leasr the song, Thank You Very Much, got an Oscar nomination!

vindanpar on December 23, 2015 at 5:01 am

When I first started going to the Hall in ‘70 it was $1.75 before 12 weekday mornings and this was when they still had a ballet company, full symphony orchestra and 36 Rockettes. I believe a few months before it had been $1.50.

Of course the films at that point were very weak, things like Sunflower and Private Life of Sherlock Holmes which was so disastrous they had to pull it early and for the first time in Music Hall history and opened the Christmas show before Thanksgiving which at the time was considered too early.

The films only got worse but every once in a while though rarely they got a What’s Up Doc or Play It Again Sam.

Sill I got to see the spectacles Rhapsody in Blue and the Undersea Ballet which were great. Literally missed Bolero by days and though it had been done frequently in the past it was never done again much to my eternal chagrin. It was done again as part of a Encores spectacle but it was a completely new staging and new sets and costumes like the current Nativity. A completely different thing without the Leonidoff imprimatur and therefore not really the Music Hall at all.

robboehm on December 22, 2015 at 11:33 am

Going the Music Hall in the day was THE theatrical experience. The lobby, the lounge and the huge auditorium. The organ, the orchestra on the risers, various stage effects. And all for peanuts. Now you spend $10 plus to sit in a space the size of your living room reclining in a chair similar to the one you have at home.

vindanpar on December 22, 2015 at 6:46 am

And maybe Mr Endres is to modest to say but the presentation of SITR was so spectacular that Vincent Canby in that Sunday Times did a big piece on it(gilt edged he called it.) And you must understand this was in 75 when all the NY critics were droning on endlessly about the American New Wave in all their long essays. Very surprising.

I was there on a Saturday and had never seen the film before not even on TV. I was in shock(you know how us movie fans can be) and sat through it twice. I had never seen such colors before and there seemed to be enough inventiveness for 10 films.

It was one of my 3 greatest movie going experiences.

Also I don’t know if the sound had been put through some fake stereo or what but I have not heard since then Conrad Salinger’s orchestrations with such clarity. Especially in the sound stage sequence when Kelly starts turning on the effects for Reynolds. Listen to what Salinger is doing and imagine it in stereo. Magical. Who knows maybe it was stereo originally! The great score of Scaramouche was recorded in stereo(alas the tracks are lost) and that played at the Hall shortly after Rain the same year. Doubt though if it was presented that way. At this point who knows?

The Music Hall had a great stereo system and this was before Dolby. The analogue stereo was better. Warmer, richer and with greater depth. Not so hard and glassy. And there were no visible speakers!

The memory of the sound in the final musical sequence of Scrooge when all the groups converge still gives me chills. It made the final moments of Finney all the more moving. I was a boy but I was practically lifted out of my seat in exhilaration.

Myron on December 22, 2015 at 6:22 am

I was horrified years ago when there was talk of demolishing the theatre. I spent much of my youth enjoying great films; mostly Audrey Hepburn, not to mention the stage extravaganzas!

RobertEndres on December 22, 2015 at 5:02 am

Actually we did that on a few occasions. MGM wanted to premiere “The Wind and the Lion” there in 70mm, and as a warm up we did “Dr. Zhivago”, “Gone With The Wind” and “200l” in 70mm and the above mentioned “Singing In The Rain” all with the same (shortened) stage show. “Fantasia” was another re-issue as was “1776” which had played there in it’s original release. “The Sting” was another re-issue as mentioned above.

Even so, the re-issues were better than most of the first run films we played in those day. (“Matilda” anyone?) Universal was the only company that really tried to help us, actually four-walling the theatre for the run of “The Sting”, “Smokey and the Bandit” and “MacArthur”. They also picked up “Caravans”, the last movie we played in the movie/stage show format, so we’d have a Christmas attraction that year. As vindanpar points out above, those were pretty bleak days for the Hall.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 22, 2015 at 12:14 am

I’m surprised to hear that Radio City presented a re-release as a regular presentation, and with a stage show no less…!

vindanpar on December 21, 2015 at 2:53 pm

She did not mean ‘65 she meant '75. SOM had a run with stage show. I remember it as it was one of the most beautiful 70MM prints of a film I have ever seen and the sound was spectacular. A great movie presentation(maybe I should thank Mr. Endres.)

I didn’t stay for the stage show because by that time they were so pathetic they were unwatchable. By this time there was no ballet and the Rockettes were cut to 30. The great spectacles that made the Hall famous were no longer done. There were relatively few people on that vast stage and sets were simple and unimpressive.

Also at this point so few people were going to the Hall that sometimes the lights were kept a dark blue so you didn’t realize you were only among a couple of hundred people in a theater of 6,000 seats. Of course you knew and it was painfully sad.

The only good thing I could say about the Hall at this point is that they could still could present a movie. Singing in the Rain, Fantasia and The Sting(if only it had opened there!)were also excellent presentations.

Also the Hall was kept unadorned and intact in its art deco magnificence. No extraneous lights, video screens or thunderous ugly Dolby speakers on the choral stairs.

hanksykes on December 21, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Nearly forgot the lights in the seat backs for reading programs no longer worked in the mid-fifties.Post cards of the stage were for sale at the concession stand, but no pin ball machines!

hanksykes on December 21, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Yes about 1956 ticket prices, My Mom and I in that year paid 99cents for the first show at Xmas , plus full length movie,plus 36 rockettes, plus 60 corpse ballet members, probably the pit orchestra was 65 strong (no recorded music),plus 25 male chorus, plus ice skaters,plus comic, plus Wurlitzer organ short concert to start and used again during the Navivity number,plus original waterfall curtain, which you didn’t see walking feet under , plus a 6 page free printed program. As a pricing example the first balcony was $1.25. Plus real scenery not digital! All elevators were used and the bandcar,what an experience, thank you ,thank god I’m old!!!!

RobertEndres on December 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm

It did, but I’ll have to look up the date. We played it in 70mm and on one performance the operators skipped from reel 5 to reel 8 without running 6 and 7. I was relatively new at the time and had to write a letter to the Business Agent registering management’s displeasure. That did cause the run to stick in my mind.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 21, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Did it EVER play here?

rcdt55b on December 21, 2015 at 1:07 pm

1/6/65-1/27/65 Father Goose 1/28/65-3/3/65 36 Hours ¾/65-3/31/65 Dear Heart 4/1/65-5/12/65 Operation Crossbow 5/13/65-7/14/65 Yellow Rolls Royce 7/15/65-9/15/65 Sandpiper 9/16/65-11/3/65 Great Race 11/4/65-12/1/65 Never Too Late 12/2/65-1/5/66 That Darn Cat

Sound Of Music did not play here in 1965. I have ALL the original books here that were used by the projectionist since the building opened.

Myron on December 21, 2015 at 12:42 pm

75 cents before noon. In the 50’s, I recall a ticket to the Radio City Music Hall was just 75 cents or 90 cents before noon. Can anybody confirm this and we used to get a free souvenir program as well describing the film & stage performance. I saved the programs somewhere in my house.

Myron on December 21, 2015 at 12:38 pm

A lady swears that she saw The Sound of Music at the Music Hall in 1965. I am certain that it never played there back in 1965 as it was 3 hours long plus a live performance would mean a frozen line outside for 4 hours. Sound of Music did finally play at the Music Hall decades later for a sing-a-long version without any stage show (no Rockettes). I saw Sound of Music in 1965 at the Rivoli Theatre in 1965 in Todd-AO.

rcdt55b on December 11, 2015 at 2:39 pm

The only Santa part that is on a track is the 3D flight from the North Pole. The rest of the show is all him. The other main characters say and sing there own vocals also. The rest of the ensemble pretty much runs off of tracks. I’m pretty sure the Rockettes are tracks too but I’ll check.

HenryABax on December 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Can anyone tell me how much of the vocal music for the Christmas Show is dubbed? I assume that all of it is, including Santa’s monologues.

rcdt55b on November 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Not only did she use the front wall, but she used the sides also. It took 27 digital projectors to do it. It was a good show.

NYer on November 18, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Adele appeared last night. She used the whole front wall as a screen and it was amazing. I’ve been going to RCMH all my life and this was the first time I’ve any show do this.

markp on November 13, 2015 at 5:34 am

rcdt55b, yes you described what I was seeing perfectly. Thats exactly what I said to the folks I was with, that it looked like 3 sections. Every time I leave, I always look up to the booth and always wish, although I know never possible, what it would be like to see the booth. My projection career of 38 years ended 2 years ago when digital took over. Now Im just a stagehand. Have a good show run.

rcdt55b on November 12, 2015 at 7:50 pm

We did go back to linear 3D gels this year which is better than last year’s circular 3D gels because of less double image. This isn’t the reason for what you saw though. There are 2 vertical braces behind the screen which are right up against the screen itself. Each one is a third of the way in from each side. Because the screen is so big, there is some slack in it. When the house fans are turned on, the screen is blown back onto these braces. On bright scenes, the braces are very visible while watching from the front. The second problem is the silver screen. It is extremely reflective. So because the screen isn’t sitting perfectly flat now, it looks like 3 sections of different brightness. We complained enough over the last few years about the braces that they finally removed the diagonal ones so it wasn’t as noticeable.

BTW, that screen is not the new one. It’s the same one we have used for the Christmas show for the last 4 years. The new picture sheet, which is also a silver screen for some reason, is only used for movies.

markp on November 12, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Saw the Christmas show tonight at 530pm. Awesome as usual. But its funny, even on the new screen, which was huge and awesome, from my seat JJ505 off aisle E, the image looked like 3 varying shades of brightness. Im wondering if its the 3D glasses causing me to see this???

vindanpar on November 8, 2015 at 11:05 am

I believe the Music Hall opened with 46. With that false proscenium they can make the stage shows smaller without it being noticeable.

The ballet company and orchestra were huge as well as one can see in photos from the early 30s.

In the 70s after they cut the ballet troupe the Rockettes were cut down to 30. Though there was no false proscenium the curtain opening got narrower and the girls were a bit more spaced out. Also the orchestra members were also spaced out and they started to use a synthesizer to augment it.

JAlex on November 5, 2015 at 8:29 am

Since the question was raised about the number of Rockettes, it may be of interest that when the troupe started, in 1925 at the Missouri Theatre in St. Louis as the Rockets, it numbered 16.

rcdt55b on November 4, 2015 at 4:44 pm

I agree 100%. We still do use film from time to time also.