Radio City Music Hall’s “Christmas Spectacular” has been everyone’s go-to family entertainment since it kicked off in 1933, and the magic is still wholly intact in 2014. From the famous toy solider kickline to the live-animal manger scene, with annually evolving storylines in between, the show gracefully balances between the predictability of tradition and the pleasure of novelty. (Spoiler: This year’s twist involves drones! How’s that for keeping up with the times?)
The sweet spot for young ones is probably age 8 and up. Smaller children will enjoy the spectacle, but even though the show smartly clocks in at 90 minutes (without an intermission), they might get a little bored during prolonged dance sequences. (We sat with a 5-year-old who was well-behaved but still extremely fidgety.) The Rockettes, as always, are flawless in their precision and impressive in their numbers (you don’t see many ensembles with 36 performers onstage at once these days, sadly).
If you’re bringing small kids, and you have the means, you might want to get seats in the front orchestra section. When ribbons and snow come shooting from hidden cannons or falling from the roof, they’re going to wish they were one of the lucky ones getting coated in all of the spiffy debris. Plus, being a little closer might hold their attention a bit more (if dozens of St. Nick clones, dancing teddy bears and a mountain of gifts doesn’t do it).
However, all attendants get to feel like they’re part of the magic from the very start, because as soon as you walk in, you’re handed both a branded Santa hat and 3-D glasses. Each prop is only used in one number, so it’s a little excessive on the production end, but who doesn’t like free stuff?
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One last tip: Bring a little extra cash for the large popcorn. The smell in the lobby will have your mouth watering, and the snack comes in a cool collectible bucket. This take-home trinket will help you get away with hustling the kiddies past the pricey souvenir stands on the way out – no tantrums necessary.