Type “Rockefeller Center” into Google Maps and on the Northwest corner of the complex you’ll find Radio City Music Hall, “legendary theater, home of the Rockettes.” Google Maps gets straight to the point, the famous theater’s name may well be synonymous with the leggy, kick-line performers.
Originally known as the Roxyettes, the Rockettes were named after Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel, the entertainment titan who some say shaped the industry as it’s known today. He was famous for creating The Roxy Theater in Times Square, and was a visionary who saw the future in movies and theater. Rothafel added features like live orchestras and dancing intermissions to movie showings, taking the world of nickelodeons and silent movies to a next-level style show for all classes. His foresight can be seen all over Radio City. Together with the Rockefellers and the Radio Corporation of America, he helped complete the first building of Rockefeller Center in 1932, sealing its fate as one of the most iconic addresses in the country, with the signature nickname Showplace of the Nation.
Since that day the top names in show business have graced the screen and the stage here. In it’s heyday, blockbuster movies always made their debut at Radio City, with stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn showing in dozens of movies there over the decades. Today the venue is mainly a stage performance theater, but its appeal is no less dazzling. Legends like Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and BB King were regulars and today’s stars are just as bright. Dave Chappelle will headline the marquee for most of August with a smattering of guest performances from the likes of Chris Rock and Lauryn Hill. A-list names across genres, from Hans Zimmer to Tony Bennett, are always on the schedule.
But New Yorkers know Radio City for the time-honored Christmas Spectacular, when the Rockettes mesmerize audiences with their athletic precision. If you’re not here for Christmas though, make time for the Stage Door tour which takes place every day of the week. You’ll get the backstage treatment of this art deco masterpiece.