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The contour curtain is open in the current show. And probably, and rightfully, because it wouldn’t fit into the Zarkana production design… It’s too dramatic and grand. Zarkana is dark and mysterious… And a little creepy, quite frankly.
The Cirque commitment is for three years each summer, with an option for another two. Re: changes to the structure… I would think the landmark status of RCMH would prohibit any permanent change to the proscenium. Regarding the show specifically, I’ve seen it and, well, let’s just say it’s not a spectacular Roxy would have mounted —– more like Alice in Wonderland meets Las Vegas. They’re using the music hall stage for its size, not for it’s technical ability. Mind you all, this is just one man’s opinion.
Absolutely stunning. Never fails to thrill.
While we’re talking technology, see the links below for two articles (in PDF format) regarding the original technical specs of the Music Hall and also the restoration. Both of these articles are out of print and unavailable for purchase, so copyrights are not being violated.
Hank: the hydraulic elevator system at Radio City was originally oil but an accident (I believe in the 40’s or 50’s) where pressure was lost and oil uncontrollably gushed, resulting in the elevators rapidliy descending and crashing to the basement, changed all that. The system was rebuilt with a new safety mechanisms and changed to water.
Frankly, I also just have to believe that a new director makes tweeks where they can and as the Music Hall, and Christmas show specifically, pushes to keep up with contemporary tastes of new audiences the style is bound to change. And let’s face it, the toy-laden marquee was rather “vintage” albeit in theme with the holidays.
If you really want to be concerned… take a look at how few set pieces are actually built now — the huge LED screen has now taken place of those larger-than-life, artistic feats that we saw just ten years ago. Personally, I’m a little down on the movement — the fun and magic of theater is giving way to electronic efficiency… and at Radio City Music Hall at least, I need more than a dropped screen — the bare stage is just too obvious (and sad).
As Rocket J. Squirrel would say, “Now here’s something we hope you really like…” See the link below I just stumbled onto. This is a piece of music the truly awesome Tom Bahler & Don Dorsey wrote for The Christmas show in the early-mid eighties, when Bob Jani was making magic. It’s the Twelve Days of Christmas and it’s classic RCMH for it’s time… full use of projection capabilities, a continued obsession with synthesized music, which started around 1980, if I remember correctly in a summer stage show called America.“ Sadly, the actual stage projections aren’t shown here (they were pretty great) but you’ll get the flavor and will imagine the wonderfully precise pandemonium that’s on a stage with every pair of legs that can dance in a frenzy by the end of the number.
Check this out:
Hi, Den & Vito. Thanks for the welcome. I saw the Christmas show earlier in the month (as I have every year since 1979) and I can report it is as shiny last year, and tweaked just a little bit, in a hardly noticeable way but someone is watching details, which is good to know. I’ll always be a purest and prefer the magic of many physical set changes over a LED screen, but I suppose change is inevitable. For those concerned about Wurlitzer magic, not to worry, it’s there. A short pre-show concert, a send off after the curtain comes down, and if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice rumble of some pedal occasionally throughout the show as a sweetener to give the orchestration some gravitas.
Wow, what an extraordinary blog. I was recently searching for a review of an old RCMH show from the eighties and found you all. I came to NYC in 1982 and started by indoctrination to NYC by guiding tours at the Music Hall.
I"m working my way through all the comments from the beginning and while it’s likely I’ll be able to add anything that hasn’t already been covered… who knows!