Upcoming Rockettes show retooled, with the ladies starring

NEW YORK (AP) — The high-kicking Rockettes are poised to dance up a storm this summer at Radio City Music Hall in a reimagined show written by Douglas Carter Beane and directed by Mia Michaels that puts the long-legged, athletic company of women at its heart.

The show, built on last year’s spring experiment, will be a “much more dynamic and immersive experience using more contemporary music,” Colin Ingram, the new executive vice president of MSG Productions, told The Associated Press.

Some winning touches from the spring show — including a 26-foot tall animatronic puppet of the Statue of Liberty, a nifty tap-dance number in real rain to “Singin’ in the Rain,” and the Rockettes’ wearing LED jackets — will return, but the “New York Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes” will be a new event.

The show, running June 15-Aug. 7, will focus on a pair of siblings visiting New York with their family who get separated from mom and dad in the hustle and bustle of the city.

The youngsters, aged about 8 or 9, have a vague sense of their parents’ itinerary for the day and try to catch up with them, with the help of the city’s various statues, including the Wall Street bull, the pair of lions protecting the New York Public Library and the George M. Cohan statue in Times Square. The Rockettes will act like a friendly Greek (dancing) chorus.

Michaels, a veteran choreographer on “So You Think You Can Dance” who choreographed the Broadway show “Finding Neverland” and created the strong opening number for the spring Rockettes show, will return as director and choreographer of the whole summer show.

Ingram, who previously was executive producer of the Old Vic Theatre Company and general manager and managing director of Disney Theatrical in London, said Michaels has kept faith with the classic uniqueness of the Rockettes but also is “pushing it in various places.”

The show will be written by Beane, whose play “The Little Dog Laughed” earned a Tony nomination and who also wrote the cult movie “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.”

“Douglas is from New York and he’s got a great sensitivity to the city. He was tickled at the idea of writing for Radio City and a piece like this,” said Ingram. “The great thing about Doug is he can write humor for children and he can write humor for adults and everyone takes their pick as to what’s funny.”

The show will feature pop songs like Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York” and also classic tunes like “New York, New York.” Tony Award-nominee Emilio Sosa will do costumes, The Moment Factory will create the multimedia environments, Tony-winner Steve Kennedy is in charge of sound design and Alain Lortie will do lighting design.

The Rockettes’ spring spectacular featured Tony-winner Laura Benanti and Derek Hough of “Dancing With the Stars” in an often-overstuffed show that included live dogs, a drone kite, T-shirt guns and videotaped cameos from New York celebrities. This time, no celebrities will feature on the Radio City stage.

“We’ve listened to our audience and we’ve quite a bit of research,” said Ingram. “We learned from that experience that they wanted more of the Rockettes. They wanted them to be the star, as they are in the Christmas show. So we’ve put the Rockettes front and center.”

The spring show sold some 300,000 tickets and creators hope they can make an annual event in the summer, when the city swells with international tourists and outdoor concerts outdraw ones at Radio City. “If we can create a summer tradition as well it would be a great achievement and we believe we can because the appetite is there,” Ingram said.

The show will be both a love letter to the city and a sort of guide to tourists. “It will show all things that you’ve either seen to you’re going to see, which I think is great,” said Ingram.

He hopes the audience will leave Radio City after the show and wander over to Times Square to see the real statue of Cohan. “Maybe look at him and see if he moves,” he said, laughing.