It’s a Blue Christmas Without Live Music

The holiday season is here, along with all of its attendant traditions: the drinking of hot chocolate, the exchanging of gifts, the singing of carols. Unfortunately, in Boston, there is a new holiday tradition that is about as welcome as a re-gifted fruitcake: using canned music in place of a live orchestra in the Rockettes roadshow.

For the second year in a row, “The Radio City Christmas Spectacular” in Boston will not be offering the rich, fully live experience of the Rockettes accompanied by a 35-piece orchestra, as in New York City. Instead, Boston’s Rockettes will be high-kicking along to lifeless recordings.

According to many reviewers, last years’ canned production deserved nothing from Santa but a lump of coal. The Boston Globe’s Terry Byrne decried it as “painfully bloated filler…with every vocal and every musical note prerecorded,” resulting in “a sameness to the sound that becomes increasingly boring.”

Another Globe columnist, Lawrence Harmon, complained that “Audiences would never sit still for animatronic Rockettes made of aluminum alloys and powered by hydraulics. Yet somehow they pay big bucks for the halfway experience of seeing live dancers absent the live musicians.”

Despite attempts at retooling the show this year with new sets and additional songs, critics continue to scold the “Spectacular” for its lack of live music. The Boston Herald’s Jenna Scherer writes that, “…for all its glitz and spectacle, it’s hard to get past the canned elements of the show. The instrumentals are all prerecorded, as is much of the singing. What sets theater apart from other forms of entertainment is that it’s live. Take that away, and you might as well be watching the show on TV.”

It is a shame that this show, which is marketed as a family experience, is depriving audiences of the magic of live music. Some of those involved may pocket a bit more by using recordings, but the kids of all ages who see this “halfway experience” will be poorer for it.

As we know, there are some producers who fervently hope the audience won’t notice when they swap out live music for tinny MP3s. That is why we ask that you please share this post with anyone you know who cares about music, and let those producers know how you feel. Only by sharing this information about shows that use synthetic or recorded music—and by voting with our feet and our wallets—can the music-loving audience take a real stand for keeping the music LIVE!

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