The Paramount’s Christmas Spectacular

Get off the stage, Santa—bring back the Rockettes!

Even to be considered for a spot in the legendary precision dance troupe the Rockettes, you must be 5 feet 6 inches or taller. So it doesn't come as a surprise that the 18 chorus girls in the lineup wear short, sparkling outfits that show off their never-ending legs—which they famously high-kick in perfect unison. It's not exactly burlesque or a Vegas floor show, but the tiny hint of sex provides a welcome jolt in this two-hour holiday pageant. Bored suburban fathers will sit forward in their seats whenever the Rockettes appear (not in every number, alas); and maybe bored suburban mothers will be inspired to purchase some naughty Christmas lingerie to help celebrate after the kids are finally asleep.But the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is foremost a family show, entertainment for children. The Paramount has been transformed into a veritable department-store window display for this production, complete with a seven-ton Christmas wreath, strobe lights, and a snow machine. Santa is your emcee, lumbering onstage to chat about the meaning of Christmas. Music and dance vignettes then illustrate his yuletide sentiments.If the show consisted only of these talented performers hoofing and lip-synching their way through the wintry landscape, you'd have a rousing 90 minutes. Unfortunately, Santa drags down the pace; he's like the windbag neighbor you try to avoid in the elevator. His seasonal remarks add an extra (read: unnecessary) 30 minutes to the show. The greatest audience response—from both adults and children—comes during scenes featuring impressive choreography and lavish costumes. Dancers dressed as pandas, brown bears, and snowmen enact an enchanting mini-rendition of The Nutcracker.And in the "Living Nativity" scene, actors were joined by real camels, sheep, and a donkey. Talk about trained theater professionals! During my visit, at least, not one of them shat the stage.

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