Rockettes’ Annual Christmas Show At NYC’s Radio City Music Hall Canceled By COVID-19

A scene from the Radio City Rockettes' Christmas show in 2004. Josh Reynolds/AP

MSG Entertainment said it is canceling the annual Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes due to concerns about COVID-19.

The move is not a major surprise, given that Broadway theaters and other indoor arts venues in New York like Lincoln Center remain indefinitely shuttered. Still, it drives home the fact that the coronavirus will remain a major theme during the holiday season.

The 2021 edition of the production remains on track as of now, organizers said.

“We regret that the 2020 production of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, presented by Chase, has been canceled due to continued uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” MSG Entertainment said in a statement. “We are disappointed for everyone involved with the show, as well as for the many fans who make the Christmas Spectacular a cherished part of their holiday tradition.”

All tickets for this year’s edition will be refunded.

The Rockettes, which formed in 1925, perform the annual Christmas show for about 1 million ticket buyers around the country each year. The show, known for its falling-wooden-soldier number and precise choreography, is a signature part of the holiday season in New York, especially given Radio City’s location in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. (The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is right across the street.)

In some past years, labor unrest has forced the cancellation of select Christmas show performances. In 2005, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians went on strike and some previews were scrapped instead of proceeding with pre-recorded music. This year marks the first full slate of regular performances to be canceled.

New York has fared much better than most U.S. states in recent weeks in terms of COVID-19, and many New York City businesses have reopened, though restaurants are open only for outdoor seating. Theaters, museums, concert venues and sports arenas remain closed and subway ridership is a fraction of normal levels. A recent estimate found that only 10% of city workers have returned to offices despite the June reopening of corporate office buildings.

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