I haven’t been to Radio City Music Hall since it completed its seven month $7,000,000 refurbishment in 1999. When I was given the opportunity last Saturday to take a VIP tour I quickly opted in. I highly recommend that you take the tour the next time you’re in NYC.
I know that everyone immediately thinks Rockettes when they think about the Hall but there’s a lot more, not the least of which is the lavish meticulously and authentically restored art deco interior design. This is a “vaudeville” house with a class act and movie premieres.
From the moment you step off the Avenue of the Americas into the theater you have stepped back into time. The authenticity makes you wish you had been born in another time. It is truly a suspension of disbelief. I suddenly could feel myself in an elegant shimmering gown with freshly coiffed hair and long painted fingernails. So convinced was I, that it was startling to catch a view of myself in a mirror with my wind and rain tousled hair, and wearing a short jacket and jeans!
The tour through each of the many men’s and women’s lounges would be worth the price of admission alone. They are so elegant and comfortable I’m not sure why anyone returns to their seat following a visit. There is sculpture and statuary everywhere worthy of the finest museum placement. In fact, one of the paintings, now returned to the men’s lounge, was residing for years at MOMA.
You only have to stand before the incredible auditorium doors to know you are in a very special theater. The auditorium houses the larges proscenium stage in the country with some of the best acoustics anywhere. But, there is no backstage. They built the theater without a backstage. You have to go see a production to see how ingeniously they have solved the problem and the way staging compensates for the lack of storage and cross-over space.
Probably my favorite room was the Conference Room Suite. It was filled with so much “deal-making history” and pictures of contract signings that I could have spent the afternoon just looking at the pictures in the frames dotting the walls and furniture.
Backstage is backstage. The history is shown in the photos on the walls. There are the normal dressing rooms and costume shops and green room. There is the hustle bustle of performers rehearsing and having fittings…and there is the smell. Backstage always smells like backstage. I guess it’s a combination of musty space, makeup and perfume. It’s always a stark contrast to the front of the house, but that’s what it should be when there is magic about to happen.