Once the leading tourist destination in New York City, Radio City Music Hall has been entertaining the public since December 2, 1932. The interior of Radio City Music Hall, declared a city landmark in 1978, is so grand that when it opened a New York critic suggested that “…it needs no performers.”
Radio City Music Hall is impressive with its full city-block long marquee, seating for nearly 6,000 spectators, Great Stage framed by a 100 foot wide 60 foot tall proscenium arch, three hydraulic-powered elevators to raise and lower sections of the stage and a fourth elevator to raise and lower the entire orchestra, plus mechanisms to produce special effects including fountains of water, torrents of rain, fog and clouds.
A “Mighty Whrlitzer” pipe organ, the largest theater pipe organ in the world, with 4,410 pipes and four control consoles was installed in 1932 and totally rebuilt as part of a complete theater restoration in 1999.
When Donald Deskey designed the largest indoor theatre in the world, a four year project that was part of John D. Rockefeller’s bold 13 building Great Depression era Art Deco complex known as Rockefeller Center, he focused on grandeur and elegance. The stage curtain is the largest in the world, the walls and 84 foot high ceiling are formed with sweeping arches without the need for view obstructing collums for support. Deskey designed furniture and carpets and coordinated the design of decorative details such as chandeliers, balustrades and railings. He hired textile designers to develop draperies and fine artists to create sculptures, murals and wall coverings.
Nicknamed “Showplace of the Nation,” Radio City Music Hall’s first performance was an elaborate stage show featuring Ray Bolger and Martha Graham. In 1933 the first feature film, Bitter Tea of General Yen starring Barbara Stanwyck, was shown at the Music Hall.
The long leged, high kicking Rockettes, a precision dance company, perform at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in NYC and, with a touring company, in other American and Canadian cities. The Rockettes performed at the Radio City Music Hall opening night in 1932 and at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1957.