The Rockettes bring 'A Holiday Spectacular' to Hallmark Channel
One of New York's most popular attractions at this time of year has, it turns out, the makings of a cable movie.
Radio City Music Hall's high-kicking Rockettes draw crowds to the legendary showplace's holiday show annually, a fact that yields the new Hallmark Channel feature "A Holiday Spectacular" Sunday, Nov. 27. Set in the late 1950s, it casts Ginna Claire Mason (of "Wicked" on Broadway) as a Philadelphia heiress who puts the brakes on her wedding plans to go to Manhattan and pursue her dream of becoming ... yes, a Rockette.
Current members of the actual troupe also are featured in the film, as is someone who built her career by displaying her dance moves in movies, the now rarely seen Ann-Margret. Eve Plumb, alias Jan of "The Brady Bunch," and Derek Klena (who was nominated for a Tony Award for "Jagged Little Pill") also appear. Written by Julie Sherman Wolfe, the picture was directed by John Putch, the son of Jean Stapleton.
"For me, the inspiration of the Rockettes and Hallmark coming together is the most important part of this," Wolfe says, "because these two powerhouses of Christmas are Christmas to so many people. When we started meeting about it, we realized how special it would be to set this movie right when the biggest turning point was for the Rockettes. The first year they were ever in the Thanksgiving Parade was 1957.
"This also was a huge turning point for our character and women in general in the late '50s," Wolfe notes, "really coming into their own and realizing that they could follow their own dreams and not just what society planned or expected for them. I can't even imagine how this feels if you are a Rockette, to walk onto that stage the first time."
Indeed, actress Mason confirms, "It was a dream come true for me. The next best thing to being a Rockette is playing one on TV. I have so much respect for all the women who have gone through Radio City as a Rockette. I'm from Nashville, and I saw The Rockettes perform there; this was actually my first time going to Radio City."
Mason deems the site's dancers to be "incredible athletes. They're so disciplined. Then, on a whole other level, the kindness that was shown to me, the first time we got to step on stage with them after rehearsing in another room on our own ... you know, there they are, the Radio City Rockettes! And we stepped onto that stage, and all the girls were (cheering) and immediately all my nerves melted away. Just to be welcomed into that sisterhood, it's such an honor."