New York City will have to go without one of its most-loved Christmas traditions. On Tuesday, MSG Entertainment announced that the annual Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The show was scheduled to begin on Friday, Nov. 6 and run until Sunday, Jan. 3. The decision comes as little surprise given the fact that Broadway theaters and other indoor arts venues in New York have closed indefinitely in response to the pandemic.
"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, Broadway World reports. "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."
In addition to canceling 2020's annual Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, the New York Post reports that MSG Entertainment has announced plans to lay off 350 people, which is approximately a third of its corporate workforce. Laid-off employees will receive severance and benefits packages, as well as outplacement support, to help with their transition. The company said that "this was a difficult decision," though they felt "this is a necessary step to protect the long-term future of our businesses."
The Rockettes formed in 1925, with Today reporting that the annual holiday special has been a staple since 1933. The 90-minute show features more than 140 performers and classic numbers like "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and the "Living Nativity" and is held annually at Radio City Music Hall. Since it first began, the show has drawn than 75 million people.
Speaking ahead of the 2019 show, dancer Soultana Schiavi admitted that preparations for the annual event are "a long process, it's a rigorous process." She explained that it's "six days a week, six hours a day, so we're here grinding it out every day." Schiavi said that most of the dancers come in early and stay late to practice their choreography and that "it's a lot of hard work, but it's very rewarding in the end."
All tickets to the 2020 show will be automatically refunded. Organizers have confirmed that the 2021 edition of the production remains on track as of now.