When in NYC, I did as any other theatre crazed visitor would do and booked myself onto a Stage Door Tour of Radio City Musical Hall. I excitedly sung out the lyrics to the HSM3 classic “I Want It All” all the way down 5th Avenue and attempted to get my friends in on a Rockette-style kick line in preparation but they weren’t impressed.
We booked our tickets at the venue itself, about an hour before our tour began. Tickets cost $26.95, or $19.95 for us students (winning). As you enter you’ll head through security, meet your tour guide (ours was a lovely chap named Kyle) and you’ll get a very snazzy little Radio City pass to display around your neck which you can add to your souvenir collection!
I didn’t really know what to expect, my knowledge stretched as far as knowing that the Rockettes existed and that Annie went to the movies there in the film! The first space you find yourself in is the Grand Foyer and it is vast. I felt completely dwarfed as I stood taking in the gorgeous art deco design. There is a spectacular mural measuring around 60ft adorning one of the smaller walls of the room so you can imagine the scale of this place. It was interesting to learn about the smaller, more hidden details in the design such as the abstract images in the carpets which I otherwise would have wandered straight over!
The auditorium was something else. The space is absolutely massive; boasting over 6,000 seats and spectacular design. Not only is it visually stunning but the design means that there truly isn’t a bad seat in the house. We stood at the back of the orchestra and in the last row of the circle and the view was perfect from both. The centrepiece is of course the stage, which is cleverly emphasised by a stunning art deco ceiling. My favourite fact of the visit was that in 2004 when Madison Square Garden was unavailable, this giant stage was transformed into a full size basketball court and became home to the NBA!! In fact, the stage has been transformed into a huge number of interesting and whacky things over the years!
We also got a glimpse into life backstage at Radio City and enjoyed a view of the world renowned stage hydraulics and the Roxy Suite – host to many a famous celeb party and the Rockette’s ‘quarters’. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to meet a real-life Rockette and quiz her on what it feels like to wear a 3 foot hat (amongst other things).
Overall, I found the Stage Door Tour incredibly worth while and interesting!! I went along with a couple of less theatre-obsessed friends who both really enjoyed it as well! The tour lasted about 80 minutes in total and we learnt a huge amount of history about this magnificent venue. I would highly recommend!