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WHAT: The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

WHEN: Through Nov. 28

WHERE: Shea's Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St.

TICKETS: $22.50 to $59.50


The Radio City Christmas Spectacular has been around since 1933, and remains a charming blend of music, dance and holiday spirit. This show is steeped in fun as well as tradition and guaranteed to help even the oldest Scrooge rediscover his inner child.

It's a long way from Radio City Music Hall to Shea's Performing Arts Center, but Tiffany Whitaker is a Rockette who felt right at home Thursday night. She, along with 17 other Rockettes and a dude named Santa, took a ride on the Metro Rail down Main Street.

"It feels great, it's just like being on the subway in Manhattan," Whitaker, a Binghamton native, said before the debut performance of the Christmas Spectacular at Shea's. The show runs through Nov. 28 and is expected to draw over 100,000 fans.

Opening night, like Christmas morning, was filled with pageantry, excitement and celebration. A crowd of a few hundred people, including Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, gathered outside Shea's for the arrival of the cast before the show. When the street car carrying the cast stopped in front of Shea's, light bulbs flashed, people applauded and the Rockettes practically danced their way into Shea's lobby.

The biggest cheer came for Laura Danelski, who's from Lancaster and in her third year on the Rockette chorus line. "She's excited and I'm nervous," said her mother, Barbara Danelski.

Once Danelski and the Rockettes hit the stage, the taps really began to fly. "Sleighride," the opening number, showcased the eye-high kicks and precision dancing that is the Rockettes' trademark.

But that was just a warm-up to a delightful celebration that perfectly captures the mood and spirit of the holiday season. On the road, the challenge is to retain the hometown New York City spirit that is an essential part of the show, and transfer it to Buffalo.

William Thomas Evans, who plays Santa Claus, helped meet that challenge. Evans not only narrates the action, but sings and dances his way through his hosting chores.

The highlight of the first half of the show was the Rockettes' famed version of "The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers." The precision and movement was impeccable.

The climax of the 90-minute program, "The Living Nativity,"was a powerful scene with animals, shepherds, and the Three Kings.

Put it all together and this production truly lived up to its name and was spectacular.


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