‘So You Think You Can Dance’s’ Mia Michaels to Direct New Rockettes Show

Mia Michaels, the choreographer best known for her work on “So You Can Think You Can Dance,” has taken the reins of the new live production featuring the Rockettes, a summer show that represents the first efforts by the new leadership of MSG Productions to grow their content and production businesses.

David “Doc” O’Connor, the CAA veteran who was named president and CEO of Madison Square Garden Company last year, and Colin Ingram, the new exec VP of MSG Productions, have tapped Broadway playwright Douglas Carter Beane (“The Little Dog Laughed,” “Cinderella,” “The Nance”) to write the script for the summer show, whose full title is the “New York Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes.”

The goal is to create a second signature show for the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall to stand alongside the 84-year-old “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” — on the way to further building MSG Productions’ content and production slate.

“Once we establish these two pillars, the ‘Christmas Spectacular’ and the ‘New York Spectacular,’ then we can really start thinking about creating other Radio City experiences that are equally unique, with or without the Rockettes,” O’Connor told Variety. “Radio City is completely unique, and we have to be innovative and entrepreneurial in figuring out how to create experiences in a bespoke fashion for that venue.”

MSG leadership is positioning the “New York Spectacular” as a new show, but Rockettes fans will recognize it as version 2.0 of the “New York Spring Spectacular,” which Harvey Weinstein co-produced last year. (Or version 3.0, if you count the previous, abortive outing “Hearts and Lights.”) Michaels, the director-choreographer of the new show, choreographed one number in last year’s “Spring Spectacular” (pictured above), and this year will work with new collaborators that include Beane, lighting designer and Cirque du Soleil alum Alain Lortie and immersive multimedia design company the Moment Factory. The latter — which has worked on events for Madonna, Disney and Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia — is poised to expand upon the environmental elements introduced in the spring production.

The summer show will incorporate many of the physical elements of the “Spring Spectacular,” particularly the large-scale re-creations of major New York tourist destinations, into a new story about a young boy and a pre-teen girl who get separated from their parents on a visit to the city. Over the course of their journey to reunite with their parents, they’re helped along by the Rockettes and by famous New York statues come to life.

“We’re building on last year’s show,” Ingram said. “We’ve asked Mia to take her style and touch several of the numbers that were in last year, and then added a few more.”

The show’s creators and producers have used market research from the 2015 spring production to guide the retooling. The biggest takeaway from last year’s audiences: They wanted more Rockettes. With that in mind, Radio City’s kickline of 36 leggy dancers are now the stars of the show, alongside 20 men, six ensemble players and a handful of other actors, adding up to a cast of about 70 performers.

The move from spring to summer, meanwhile, will allow MSG to capitalize on the annual spike in city visitors during hot-weather months, when tourism increases by 30%. Many of those seasonal visitors are the family audiences toward which the “New York Spectacular” is geared.

According to O’Connor, Weinstein — who had enlisted collaborators including stage director Diane Paulus (“Waitress”) and director-choreographer Warren Carlyle, both also no longer attached to the project — was never on the hook for a multi-year involvement in the project. “Harvey’s a very good friend of this company and he came in and did us an enormous favor by putting together a show that drew 300,000 people to the venue last spring,” O’Connor said. “But he’s got a day job. He’s got a company to run. It was never contemplated that he was going to be the creative force behind future shows.”

The “New York Spectacular,” in all its iterations, adds up to a major investment for MSG. O’Connor declined to put an exact price tag on it, but in an interview last year, MSG chairman James L. Dolan characterized the spring show as an investment of almost $50 million, up to that point.

Beginning performances June 15, “New York Spectacular” is currently scheduled to play 75 shows over its six-week run, which breaks down to between nine and 10 shows per week. After that, O’Connor and Ingram intend to start thinking about potential future offerings.

Ultimately we want to build more productions,” O’Connor said. “But where we take this with the brands that we create in our various venues, and beyond, remains to be seen.”

More Legit

  • Broadway Bounty Hunter review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Broadway Bounty Hunter'

    Anyone wondering what genre-hopping composer-lyricist-book writer Joe Iconis would do as an encore to the Broadway run of Tony-nominated “Be More Chill” need look no further than his immediate past. Written for veteran stage actress Annie Golden and initially produced by Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Mass. in 2016, “Broadway Bounty Hunter” is both an [...]

  • Because of Winn Dixie review

    Regional Theater Review: 'Because of Winn Dixie,' the Musical

    Watching the musical “Because of Winn Dixie” at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Conn., it’s hard not to think of another show that premiered in the same regional theater 43 years ago. It, too, featured a scruffy stray dog, a lonely-but-enterprising young girl and a closed-off daddy who finally opens up. But “Winn Dixie,” based [...]


    Off Broadway Review: 'Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow'

    There’s something about Anton Chekhov’s whiny sisters that invites comic sendups of “Three Sisters” like the one Halley Feiffer wrote on commission for the Williamstown Theater Festival. Transferred to MCC Theater’s new Off Broadway space and playing in the round in a black box with limited seating capacity, the crafty show feels intimate and familiar. [...]

  • the way she spoke review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Way She Spoke' With Kate del Castillo

    Since the 1990s, scores of women in Juarez, Mexico have been mutilated, raped, and murdered at such a rate that some have called it an epidemic of femicide—killing women and girls solely because they are women. Isaac Gomez’s play “the way she spoke,” produced Off Broadway by Audible and starring Kate del Castillo, confronts the [...]


    Brian Cox Playing LBJ in Broadway Run of 'The Great Society'

    Brian Cox will play President Lyndon Johnson in the Broadway run of “The Great Society,” playwright Robert Schenkkan’s follow-up to “All the Way.” The role of Johnson, a crude, but visionary politician who used the office of the presidency to pass landmark civil rights legislation and social programs, was originally played by Bryan Cranston in [...]

  • Paul McCartney Has Penned Score for

    Paul McCartney Has Been Secretly Writing an 'It's a Wonderful Life' Musical

    The pop superstar who once released a movie and album called “Give My Regards to Broad Street” really does have designs on Broadway, after all. It was revealed Wednesday that Paul McCartney has already written a song score for a stage musical adaptation of the 1946 Frank Capra film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The [...]

  • The Night of the Iguana review

    West End Review: 'The Night of the Iguana' With Clive Owen

    If Tennessee Williams is the poet laureate of lost souls, none of his characters as are off-grid as the restless travelers trying to make it through his little-seen 1961 play, “The Night of the Iguana.” Holed up in a remote Mexican homestay, its ragtag itinerants live hand-to-mouth, day by day, as they seek refuge from [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content