5 stages of Xmas for Radio City

NEW YORK — Radio City Prods. will expand its lucrative holiday franchise into Chicago, staging a Christmas spectacular in the Windy City next December.

Chicago will be the second city to receive the holiday musical package in 1997; a production previously was announced for Detroit. The latest expansion is expected to be announced by Radio City execs at a press conference in Chicago today.

The two new productions bring the total number of Radio City spectaculars to five: In addition to the holiday staple in New York, Radio City stages productions in Branson, Mo., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Last year’s three holiday productions grossed a combined $52 million, the bulk – about $44 million – coming from the New York staging at Radio City Music Hall.

$4.3 mil in 5-week run

The Branson production took in $4.3 million during its five-week run, while Myrtle Beach grossed $3.7 million for a four-week stand, according to Radio City figures.

Sources say the Chicago and Detroit productions will be capitalized at between $5 million and $7 million for the initial year, with costs expected to decrease for the subsequent stagings.

In Chicago, Radio City has pacted with the 4,100-seat Rosemont Theater for a 20-year deal, and will partner with Chi’s the Entertainment Group to stage the show. In Detroit, the show will be co-produced by the Illitch family (owner of the Fox Theater) and Brass Ring Prods.

The Radio City spectacular, featuring new routines in addition to the dancing Rockettes and other staples of the New York show, will play a limited run in Chicago for the initial outing (24 performances from Dec. 11- 27).

Radio City Prods. prexy-CEO Arlen Kantarian said the company is considering productions for Los Angeles, Mexico City and London, among others, for 1998 and after.

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