Posts Tagged ‘Linda Harberman’

Four Days in North Plainfield, N.J, Part 2

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

A Radio City Christmas

By Kitch & Tony Mussari
Copyright 2011
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project,

“Radio City Music Hall is as much a place to see as it is a place to see things.” Unknown

A Day in New York

Known as the showplace of the nation, there is nothing quite like a visit to Radio City Music Hall. For 78 years this historic theater has attracted people from all over the country and the world.

Constructed in 1932 as a venue for high class variety entertainment, Radio City Music Hall is an America treasure. It is big, beautiful and beckoning.  From the moment your eyes see the art deco façade located at 1260 Avenue of the Americas, something happens in your heart. You know instinctively you are in a very special place  

Joe Klemm captured part of the mystic of the theater with 10 words: “Few rooms scream New York City more than this gilded hall.”

For Kitch and me, Radio City screams America at its best. Everything about Radio City, the look, the feel, the crowds, the noise, the chatter of excited children, the child-like wonder of their parents and grandparents, especially at Christmas time, conveys a sense of celebration and community. Everything about Radio City is magical.

On this December afternoon, we joined Tom and Jacqueline Mazur for a 20-minute ride to New York City.  It was a glorious day. The sun was high in the sky, the temperature was unseasonably warm. The roads were crowed with like-minded people who were headed for the same destination, New York City and all it has to offer its guests.

After a short delay at the Lincoln Tunnel, we were in Manhattan.  Our first stop was Le Pain Quotidien a bakery cafe on 50th street. There we met a very pleasant waiter, Chris Britton.  He was soft spoken and very helpful.  Chris is a student at Pace University.  He is interested in criminal justice and marine biology. He works three nights a week and weekends. He is a very positive young man who is pleased with the life he has built for himself. It was a delight to meet Chris.

A Christmas Spectacular

Our next stop was Radio City. Although our walk to the theater was short, it took longer than we expected because the sidewalks were crowded with people who were on their way to Rockefeller Center and other attractions in the area. New York’s finest were everywhere. They made sure that traffic on the streets and pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks moved safely and smoothly.

On my way into the theater, I had a moment of high anxiety. An attendant saw my camera case, and she ordered me to leave the camera at the security desk. While I fumbled to get the digital camera out of the case, a pleasant guard assured me that the camera would be safe under his desk. He was filling out a green identification tag, when a supervisor appeared out of nowhere. With a polite, but authoritative voice, she told him to give me the camera. ‘It’s a small camera,” she said, “You can take it into the theater.”

After I caught my breath, I turned to the woman. As I said thank you, I instinctively embraced her in a warm hug of gratitude.

She smiled approvingly, and said, “I am glad to help you. Enjoy the show.”

In that moment, I remembered the words of Quabina, a parking attendant in lower Manhattan who befriended me in the 1990’s: “People are the same all over the world, some nice. Some not.”

Because of this unexpected act of kindness, I entered the theater with an extra bounce in my step.  To be honest, I felt like a child on Christmas morning. Everything seemed bigger and brighter than I imagined. Everyone seemed happier and more accommodating than I expected. As we approached our seats Santa Claus was welcoming the audience. It was the beginning of 90 minutes of sheer delight.

Everything Old Is New Again

The Christmas Spectacular features 14 scenes each with distinctive music and production values. The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers is Scene 5.  Described in the program as everybody’s favorite, it features 36 Rockettes dressed in red and white uniforms. It did not disappoint the capacity crowd. The synchronized performance was perfect. The complex and potentially dangerous ending was beautifully executed. Everyone in the theater was mesmerized watching each dancer fell backwards into the outstretched arms of two soldiers behind her.

The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers has been a staple of the Christmas show since 1933. On this December afternoon in 2011, the applause for the Rockettes from 5,931 people in attendance was nothing short of thunderous.

The Best Gift

Scenes 7 -11 got my undivided attention. Taken together they tell a mini-story about the Christmas spirit. The scenes feature an overwrought mother who can’t find the one gift she thinks her daughter wants, a well grounded daughter who doesn’t seem to be all that concerned about the gift and a thoughtful Santa Claus who tries to share perspective and wisdom.

The story begins in a department store. It continues in Santa’s workshop, and it ends after a 3-D Video Game.

Three of the scenes are tied together by the song Closer Than You Know/I Knew.

When the Christmas Spectacular opened in November, some critics were not impressed with the concept or the execution of this part of the show. 

I liked the attempt to make people think about what Santa called the best gift.

And what was the best gift?  

Well, it wasn’t the “Jumping Jasmine” doll, the so-called gift of the year.  It wasn’t Santa’s hi tech video game. It wasn’t anything mother or daughter could buy in a store or on-line. It was mother and daughter having fun together, spending time with someone they love.
The greatest gift was closer than they knew.

Scene 12, Let Christmas Shine, reinforced the message that the true Light of Christmas comes from within. Tthat’s a story we can’t hear too often these days.

The First Christmas

Scene 13, The Living Nativity, was described in the program with these words: “The beautiful and inspiring story of the first Christmas-told reverently in pageantry, music and scripture. It was all that and more.

The Christmas Spectacular ends with the lights up, the orchestra pit up, and the magnificent Wurlitzer Organ and its 4,410 pipes playing Joy To The World.

I wish everyone could see the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. It’s an experience that is bigger than life and simply unforgettable.  I wish they could see it after they see Dickens A Christmas Carol because in so many ways the two performances speak to the essence of Christmas.

We left Radio City Music Hall smiling and talking like four teenagers after the senior prom. We made our way to Rockefeller center where we took pictures with the gigantic Christmas tree behind us.

America at its Best

During the ride home, I thought to myself, everything we experienced on this day of days spoke to the Face of America on its best day.  The theater is a tribute to architectural genius and historical preservation. The actors and musicians performed flawlessly. The Rockettes exhibited the highest standard of discipline, talent and execution.  The creativity and vision of Linda Haberman brought everything together. The people we met were courteous, kind and helpful.   

It was a day we will remember until the end of our journey.  It was something Kitch wanted to do. Something we needed to do.  Something Tom was generous to arrange, and something Jacqueline made so pleasant by her caring way and her generous acts of kindness to Kitch.

Santa Claus is right:

These days everywhere you look there are strings of holiday lights, but at this time of year the most beautiful light comes from the inside, and it is closer than we know.

Thank you, Jacqueline & Tom.

Thank you, Radio City Music Hall personnel.

Thank you, Rockettes.

Thank you, Linda Harberman

Thank you, New York for preserving the showplace of the nation.

Every action with satisfaction
That you’re pursuing so
Might be, may be, could be
Closer than you know

Tony & Kitch Mussari
The Face of America Project
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