It's not just the eye-high kicks and precision dance, but a loose story line following Santa from the North Pole to Radio City to Utah. "We've got a lot of friends at the Maverik Center waiting for us," says Santa, before he mounts his Rockettes-dressed-as-reindeer-powered sleigh.
Santa also sums up the entire production when he tells the crowd "The Holiday show is a lot like Christmas itself. There's always something new to unwrap, but the tradition stays alive."
Before the Rockettes take the stage, performers from Center Stage Performing Arts in Orem give their tribute the Radio City dancers with their own high kicks. Unfortunately, it doesn't last very long.
The number they perform is elaborate, but too bad it's the only one. After this opening act took the stage, it was still a while before Sue Kelley and the Coach from Arrow 103.5 and Brooke Walker from KSL-TV introduced the main act.
The Rockettes' set is almost as beautiful as the ladies performing. Huge giant red ornamented curtains hide the backstage, giving the crowd a sense of what it's like to see the show at Radio City, even if it's impossible to match perfectly. The dramatic lights, confetti shooting from the stage and the LED screen behind the dancers really help as well.
Of course, some of the best numbers in the show are Rockettes classics like March of the Wooden Soldiers, which is easy enough to watch on Youtube, but a far different experience in person. The dance is probably the perfect example of the synchronicity that made the Rockettes famous.
The Rockettes dance the entire 12 Day of Christmas, which got the 10-year-old girls sitting in my row out of their seats dancing, and they pull out the most stunning (silver, glittery, can't-take-your-eyes-off) costumes of the evening in Let Christmas Shine, which features about seven minutes of high-energy tap dancing.
The entire performance is about an hour and a half and definitely worth it, but to be completely honest, the Nutcracker number was a little weird. The dancers show their skill by going on toes in bear costumes (some actually look more like ferrets). But it completely threw me off when the belly dancing bear hit the stage. Did I miss this part in Tchaikovsky's ballet?
They make up for it with a routine on an NYC tour bus as it circles the blocks toward Central Park and Broadway with some help from the LED screen. Dancers fill the streets in Times Square with Christmas presents and Macy's shopping bags. Maybe a step away from tradition, but visually amazing.
Much more than just a dance show, the Radio City Singers take the stage between routines and even Santa sings.
The religious side of Christmas is also shown as Rockettes perform the Nativity story, complete with wise men, Mary, Joseph and taxes. They do it with precision, but I think the crowd was more into it when they were sassy reindeer with light up antlers to kick things off.
The Rockettes formed in 1932 as the Roxyettes and entertained troops during WWII before making their first TV appearance in the '50s. A decade later, they were on the cover of Life magazine. Parts of the show are more childish than others, so it's important to bring the whole family, but you'll definitely get to see why this talented group has lasted so long.
The Maverik Center is located at 3200 S. Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City. Tickets are $29-$95.
Friday night's show was pretty crowded, but not completely filled. So, get your tickets right now.
Shows are Saturday, Nov. 27 at 4 and 7 p.m. Click here for more info.
Hopefully, the production will come back to Utah again next year.