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Saturday, November 15, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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'Spectacular' show is a kick

Seattle Times staff reporter

Theater review


"Radio City Christmas Spectacular," through Dec. 7, Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; $22.50-$59.50 (206-292-ARTS or www.ticketmaster.com).

Simply magical.

Take Santa and Mrs. Claus, some friendly elves, a gaggle of reindeer, dancing snowmen, ballerina bears and a high-voltage, high-kicking chorus line of Rockettes and you've got a Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Think of it as a classy Christmas pageant full of cheer and yuletide spirit.

The Christmas Spectacular, a New York tradition making its first foray to Seattle, has all the glitz of a Broadway show, complete with stunning dance numbers featuring those legendary legs, lavish sets and costumes, and traditional holiday music.

The revue, which runs through Dec. 7 at the Paramount, puts a fresh spin on classic holiday themes — with a few nods to Seattle. (Santa references our most famous landmark, saying, "The Space Needle is a beacon for my sleigh.")

The show begins with the big man himself making the trek from the North Pole to Seattle, his sleigh pulled along by the fancy footwork of the Rockettes, who are adorned in rich chocolate-colored velvet reindeer suits and lighted antlers. From Seattle it glides seamlessly to the streets of New York City ("Christmas in New York") as last-minute shoppers clamor for gifts, to the hustle and hard work of the elves at the North Pole ("Santa's Workshop").

The 90-minute show is full of high spirits and holiday warmth. It's impossible to walk away feeling glum when you hear "The Twelve Days of Christmas," "Frosty the Snowman" and "We Need a Little Christmas," and see the Rockettes dance in perfect unison, with perfect posture.

The Rockettes shine in every scene, but they were particularly awe-inspiring in a rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," tap-dancing and kicking their way through each day without missing their mark.

Radio City's charming spin on "The Nutcracker," performed by teddy bears, is worth the ticket price alone.

Scenic designer Patrick Fahey creates a slice of life in the Big Apple for the sweeping "Christmas in New York" number, complete with the bright lights of Radio City Music Hall and Macy's; Santa's workshop with all its boxes and bows is reminiscent of a toy store. The incandescent tree ornaments that dangle high above the stage are stunning, as are the towering Christmas trees and holiday wreaths flashing with colorful or crystal clear bulbs. It's as if Fahey has created a snow globe with the most amazing settings imaginable.

The show ends with the "Living Nativity," a muted scene that features the most elaborate costumes of the evening and live animals, including two camels.

Tina Potterf: tpotterf@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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