Located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, inside the Rockefeller Center complex, Radio City Music Hall is an internationally recognized entertainment venue, home to the city's renowned precision dance company, The Rockettes. Rockefeller Center, a 12-acre multipurpose complex in Manhattan's Midtown district, was developed throughout the 1930s by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Original plans for the complex's entertainment hall called it International Music Hall, but the eventual "Radio City" name was chosen as a nod to the Radio Corporation of America, a tenant that was an early precursor to the NBC network.
The Music Hall opened on December 27, 1932. Its 5,933-seat venue was designed by Edward Durell Stone and featured large proscenium arches and art deco-style detail. A 66.5-by-144-foot Great Stage was created that mimicked a setting sun. A Mighty Wurlitzer organ was built for the theater, along with a large gold curtain to adorn the proscenium, still the largest of its kind in the world. Public art by major Depression-era sculptors and artists was placed throughout the building's hallways and foyers, many pieces of which are still on display today. At the time, the design of the facility's elevator system was so advanced that the United States Navy copied its hydraulics for the construction of World War II aircraft carriers.
The original concept for the hall was to house a revival of the high-class variety entertainment show style, and as such, the hall's opening gala featured performances by Ray Bolger, Martha Graham, and Doc Rockwell. Unfortunately, the format proved unsuccessful in the venue, so in 1933, the venue switched to showing a combination of a stage spectacles and feature films. This format continued until 1979, making the hall a major site for film premieres such as King Kong, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Mary Poppins, and White Christmas. It was, at one point, the city's leading tourist destination. Challenges in securing bookings prompted by changes in the 1970s to film distribution resulted in a loss of revenue and attendance for the venue, however, and in 1978, Alton Marshall, the president of Rockefeller Center, announced the venue's closing, slated for the following spring.
A large public campaign by New York City's arts and entertainment community followed as an attempt to save the iconic hall, which had come to be known as the "Showplace of the Nation." Notable spots on the Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live, and the Tomorrow Show, along with a campaign formed by Music Hall performers, known as the Showpeople's Committee to Save Radio City Music Hall, are credited with reigniting public support for the building's preservation. In the spring of 1978, the building was declared a city landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, ensuring its continued use as a performance venue, and in 1980, the hall was reopened after renovations.
Today, the hall is still the largest indoor venue in the world. It is run by the Madison Square Garden Company, primarily hosting concerts, stage shows, and special events. The annual Tony Awards, honoring Broadway achievements, are hosted at the venue every June. Throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the Music Hall has hosted major televised events, including the Daytime Emmy Awards, the Grammy Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards, the ESPY Awards, and the NFL Draft. From 2013 to 2015, the televised talent competition show America's Got Talent broadcast its live shows from the venue, which has also served as the backdrop for special episodes of Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and other game shows. Major concerts by leading international pop and rock performers also appear frequently at the venue.
Regular performances by the Rockettes chorus line, the hall's resident performance troupe, include the famed Radio City Christmas Spectacular, an annual holiday stage musical and a New York City tradition since 1933. More than one million annual visitors attend the Spectacular's performances at the venue. The Rockettes perform at a number of major events throughout the year, including the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Christmas Spectacular also tours annually to cities throughout North America.
The Radio City Stage Door Tour offers visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the venue's operation, highlighting its history and design and featuring a meet-and-greet opportunity with a member of the Rockettes. A longer Art Deco Tour is offered for architecture buffs, and a private VIP Stage Door Tour is available for groups of up to 20 people, including tours of the facility's rehearsal halls, dressing rooms, or lighting booth and projection room. Combination tours with the Lincoln Center, the city's major performing arts complex, are also available, and career educational tours are offered for visitors interested in work in theatrical professions.
1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020, Phone: 212-465-6741
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