The Paley Center for Media is hoping visitors get a kick out of its new free exhibit “It’s Holiday Time in Paleyland,” which features the next best thing to the Radio City Rockettes precision dance team: the most famous of their costumes.
The “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” costume and original sketches by designer Vincente Minnelli, the father of actress and singer Liza Minnelli, will be on display at the Manhattan venue through Dec. 31.
“Costuming is a very important aspect of being a Radio City Rockette,” said Julie Branam, director and choreographer of the “Christmas Spectacular.” “They not only accentuate the glamour of the Rockettes, but they accentuate the precision and uniformity of the line that the Rockettes are known for.”
The exhibit features four of the Wooden Soldiers positioned in front of an illuminated screen that brings to life the “soldier fall” featured in the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” number — the most iconic scene from the holiday show.
Minnelli, director of such MGM musicals as “Meet Me In St. Louis,” was one of the first set and costume designers for the “Christmas Spectacular.” He modeled the soldier’s look after a porcelain doll. The outfit — white trousers, a red jacket and cheek dots, high heels and a feathered black hat that stands nearly 3 feet tall — has remained nearly unchanged since the show debuted in 1933.
“It is such an iconic Rockettes costume and it really captures and conveys the joy of the holiday season and the Rockettes tradition,” Branam said.
The costume anchors a series of other offerings in the “It’s Holiday Time in Paleyland” exhibit, including daily screenings of beloved films such as “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “A Rugrats Kwanzaa,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” “Elmo’s World: Happy Holidays!” and “Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol.” The exhibit was the brainchild of Paley Center president and CEO Maureen Reidy.
The venue will host ornament- and puppet-making activities each day of the exhibit and will serve free hot cocoa. Santa Claus will be on hand on select dates. His schedule can be found at paleycenter.org
The “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” costume can be seen on stage at Radio City Music Hall through Jan. 2.