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Radio City Tickets - Radio City Music Hall: Tickets Over the Years

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Radio City in New York City! Flashing marquee lights an entire city block long! The Rockettes! The Christmas extravaganza! The Stage Door Tour! The great stage, the Mighty Wurlitzer, the radiating arches of the proscenium: The interior of Radio City Music Hall has been an official Big Apple landmark since 1978. For generations, any visit to New York City had to include tickets to the self-styled Showplace of the Nation. Since the auditorium opened, more than 300 million people have attended stage shows, concerts, movies, ice shows, dance performances, holiday spectaculars and other entertainment events there.

Times have changed, and the Radio City Music Hall is no longer the legendary entertainment venue that it once was. But for any visitor to New York with three or four leisurely days to see the sights, Radio City Music Hall is still worth checking out even if tickets get you access to a movie you could just as easily see at your local multiplex.

A Brief History of Radio City Music Hall

In the 1920s, shortly before the Radio City Music Hall was built, midtown Manhattan was a warren of dilapidated slum housing and trashy nightclubs. The philanthropist John D. Rockefeller envisioned a way of changing this by developing one of New York’s first upscale commercial real estate complexes on land he leased from the city of New York. (Eventually, Rockefeller bought the land.) Ground was broken on Rockefeller Center, as the project was called, in 1929 as the Great depression was first beginning.

One of the very first buildings to be completed was Rockefeller Center’s tallest, the 70 storey RCA (Radio Corporation of America) Building. Because RCA was an anchor tenant, Rockefeller Center’s nickname quickly became Radio City, and the fabulous Art Deco music hall, bounded by Fifth and Seventh Avenues and 47th to 50th Street, was dubbed the Radio City Music Hall.

When Radio City Music Hall made its debut on December 27, 1932, its opening event was a vaudeville show featuring the popular comedian/hoofer Ray Bolger, Martha Graham, and the precision dance troupe then known as the Roxyettes, soon to become the Rockettes. At the time it was built, Radio City Music Hall was the largest indoor entertainment venue in the world with a seating capacity of 60,000. Architect Edward Durell Stone aimed for opulence and scale in the imposing grey stone building, while interior designer Donald Deskey, envisioning a space that was both elegant and functional, subdivided the interior into over 30 separate spaces including themed lounges and smoking rooms. The auditorium’s gold brocade stage curtain was the largest in the world and pipe organ, nicknamed the Mighty Wurlitzer, custom built for the theater, had to be housed in 11 different chambers.

By 1933, however, it was clear that Radio City’s auditorium was just too cavernous for stage shows – in those days before the invention of sophisticate sound systems, performers’ voices got lost and that stage was too large for the acts. The first movie to play the Music Hall was Frank Capra’s underappreciated historical romance, The Bitter Tea of General Yen. It was accompanied by a Rockettes performance. Since 1933 over 700 films have debuted at the Radio City Music Hall including the original King Kong, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and To Kill a Mockingbird (coincidently starring Gregory Peck, once an usher at the theater.) The Radio City Music Hall is also a frequent venue for televised awards shows including the Grammy Awards, the Tony Awards, and the MTV Music Awards. Pop music legend Ringo Starr also celebrated his 70th birthday there.

In 1999, the Radio City Music Hall was completely renovated at a cost of over $70 million.

The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular

Every year since 1933 the event that sells the most Radio City tickets is the auditorium’s Christmas extravaganza. It’s estimated that over one million visitors a year go to see the event during the eight weeks it plays. Designed as family-friendly, non-sectarian holiday entertainment, recent years’ shows have featured the Rockettes in performance standards like Parade of the Wooden Soldiers. Additionally, Santa invites the audience to the North Pole where toys come to life – they look startlingly like the Rockettes – and the birth of Jesus is reenacted in a number called the Living Nativity. You can purchase tickets for this event through Ticketmaster or online at Radio City’s website: http://www.radiocitychristmas.com/nationaltour/tickets.html.

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