New York Spectacular OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Santiago Mejia
  • NY TIMES

  • NY POST

Opening Night:
June 23, 2016
Closing:
August 7, 2016

Theater: Radio City Music Hall / 1260 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020

Synopsis: 

New York Spectacular Starring The Radio City RockettesTM celebrates New York City in the summertime centered around the trip of a lifetime for two kids, who, while on a vacation in New York, are separated from their parents. The city magically comes to life to show them its many splendid wonders and helps to reunite their family in the end.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF New York Spectacular

    Get No Kick From the Rockettes in ‘New York Spectacular’

    LAURA COLLINS-HUGHES

    June 24, 2016: Parents visiting Manhattan with their families, I implore you: Before arrival, formulate a plan of action in case you and the kids accidentally lose one another amid the dizzying urban whirl. If the shiny and dispiriting new Rockettes extravaganza, “New York Spectacular,” is any indication, failure to do so may result in your children crisscrossing the island in search of you, tracing a convoluted path that makes no sense logically or dramatically. On the plus side, they may come across an impressive kick line or two. All glamorous athleticism and martial precision, the Rockettes are the stars of this sensory-overload summer show at Radio City Music Hall, but the story woven through it like an excuse is about a teenage girl and her little brother lost on the town, encountering one famous landmark after another: Grand Central Terminal, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wall Street, Central Park, and on and on. A reworking of last year’s “New York Spring Spectacular,” this version has the director and choreographer Mia Michaels (of TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance”) at the helm and a new script by Douglas Carter Beane. But everything about this ungainly show feels as if the creative team was engaged by Madison Square Garden Entertainment, which presents the “Spectacular,” to tinker with a template, fitting their contributions to a fixed idea — which seems to be, mainly, selling tickets to people who would rather sit back and watch a sanitized simulation of the city than engage with the real, messy thing. Hey, eyes are eyes, right? In the Times Square scene, the stage and the auditorium’s arched ceiling are plastered with the brightly lit logos of companies that have ads in the program. It’s a brazen and lifeless display of commercial synergy and a rare instance of imaginative failure in both set design (Patrick Fahey) and the otherwise striking video and projection design (Moment Factory). The show does have its rewards, most of them involving the Rockettes, majestic from the minute they stride powerfully out of a wall of fog in the opening number, the Taylor Swift song “Welcome to New York.” The high point is their delightfully splashy tap version of “Singin’ in the Rain,” performed in a downpour in eye-poppingly yellow skirted slickers with highly twirlable flower-blossom umbrellas (by Essa). Patience and Fortitude, the lions who flank the entrance to the New York Public Library’s flagship building on Fifth Avenue, have a quieter charm when they deliver a rap (written by AnnMarie Milazzo and Billy Jay Stein). With big blinking eyes, swatting tails and expressive paws, these giant puppets (designed by the Paragon Innovation Group) are two of several statues that come to life here. The Broadway actor Euan Morton (“Taboo”) makes a kindly Mercury at Grand Central, while Danny Gardner (“Dames at Sea”), as George M. Cohan, hoofs nimbly with the Rockettes in Times Square. But the whole enterprise is misshapen, its disconnected episodes strung together by a story that has no real reason for being and whose human scale feels utterly dwarfed on the gigantic Radio City stage. Mr. Beane is not to blame for that — even if only one line in the show, delivered by a giant sarcophagus at the Met, contains anything of his customary puckishness. “New York Spectacular” isn’t a musical in need of a great book; it’s a glittery pageant, where music, dance and design need to be paramount. Put those at the center, replace cynicism with celebration, and you might have entertainment worth watching.

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  • NY POST REVIEW OF New York Spectacular

    Finally, the Rockettes summer show is actually spectacular

    Elisabeth Vincentelli

    June 24, 2016: Call it “The Miracle on 50th Street.” Radio City Music Hall has been trying hard to give its precision-dance troupe, the Rockettes, something to do beyond Christmas — with little luck. In 2014, it scrapped the new “Heart and Lights” a week before its first preview. And last year’s “New York Spring Spectacular” dragged Laura Benanti, Derek Hough and the leggy ensemble into a chaotic kitsch cocktail. But the third time’s the charm. This year’s edition, choreographed and directed by Mia Michaels (“So You Think You Can Dance”), uses most of the same building blocks but improves on them — even if the new book, about a tourist family that gets separated in New York City, is still too gushy and rah-rah. Here are five numbers that are truly spectacular. “Wall Street” Even Bernie Sanders might cheer as the Rockettes work their magic to the sound of “Money, Money,” surrounded by giant dollar signs and sprawling projections of stock-market tickers. “Fashion” When the action shifts to the Garment District, the Rockettes strut to the strains of “Vogue.” Then they walk toward the audience in a move that’s part sexy, part threatening — and totally hot. “Finale” Cue a medley of “New York, New York” and “One” (from “A Chorus Line”), and the Rockettes let loose with their celebrated kick line. It all sounds and looks terrific. “Singin’ in the Rain” No star solo this time, as the number has been reframed toward synchronized tapping. The dreamy ending is one of the few times Michaels slows things down. And it works, beautifully. “Rockin’ the Met” Paintings from the Metropolitan Museum suddenly come to life. Easy enough with projections, right? Sure — until the images explode out of the frames in impressively real-looking 3-D fragments.

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