Sunday, October 24, 2010

Radio City Music Hall- The Backstage Tour

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Radio City Music Hall by Night[/caption]

My wife got an invite for a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall.  I was really interested too, so we packed up the car, drove to midtown, parked using our not so secret parking coupons ($20 for 6 hours through central parking) and arrived at Radio City Music Hall.

Full disclosure: We were comped for our tickets, in hopes that we would write about it.  Since I only write about things like this that I either love or hate, they are in luck.  It was great fun.

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 14:  The Rockettes rehearse...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

It's a  1 hour tour that MSG Entertainment (managers and producers of Radio City) do on  most days. (the guide told me that at peak periods they do 2 tours every 15 minutes!)  They even do them when shows are going on (they have a special panel to show people the theatre without actually being in the theatre!)

In case you didn't know, Radio City Music Hall is one of the largest theatres in the world-- seating over 6000 people.  Built in 1932 using Rockefeller money, the theatre opened on December 27, 1932, and has been producing world class family friendly entertainment since.  They've had circuses, singers, magicians, elephants, and just about everything else in there.  And of course, they are most famous for their Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which features the world-famous Rockettes.

The tour brings you all around the building, and you get an idea of how immense the theatre is.  It is a walking tour, and not particularly handicapped accessible (no strollers either.)  Stairs just about everywhere you go, You get to see lots of different parts of the building, from  the ingeniously designed hydraulic stage to the area where the animals for the nativity scene are kept, to the spacious rehearsal studios up above, to the private suite/apartment of Roxy Rothafell, the first manager of the mammoth theatre, and the guy who realized that people wanted to see beautiful ladies doing precision dancing in nearly nothing (ie the Rockettes.)  You also get to see the "lounges"  very fancy bathrooms.  Yes, they are on the tour!

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Radio City Music Hall[/caption]

Interesting factoid: The interior of the theatre was inspired by a sunrise over an ocean liner, and the curtain is designed to be the stage.  They don't make theatres like this anymore!

At the end of the tour you get to meet and have a photo opportunity with a real live Rockette.  (They will ding you for the opportunity to buy the photo on the way out-- so bring your own camera.)  And by the way, cell-phone cameras or videos are not allowed, but still cameras are.

My son who just turned 2 seemed to really enjoy the tour-- naturally, for him it was more about seeing immense chandeliers and hearing about animals then it was about the appreciation of the art deco carpeting and sculptures and artwork.  There were about 16 families in our group with kids of all ages, and everybody seemed to have a pretty good time on their own level.  If you are interested in theatrical history, large buildings, or New York City, I think you'll have a very good time.

I might very well go back again, especially if I have some theatre pals visit.

TICKET INFO: The Stage Door Tours depart approximately every half-hour from 11a.m to 3p.m daily. Same day tickets may be purchased at the Radio City Music Hall Avenue Store (Jan-Oct) or the 51st Street Tour Entrance (Nov - Dec.) .Tickets for future tours may be purchased at the Radio City Music Hall or Madison Square Garden box offices, all Ticketmaster outlets, or call Ticketmaster at (866) 858-0008.Tickets are priced at $18.50 for adults, $15 for senior citizens, and $10 for children under 12.

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