NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If the crowded stores, long lines and travel delays got you stressed out this holiday season, how about taking a break and taking in a show?
For the past 16 years, Megan Fairchild has graced the David H. Koch Theater stage as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Her character welcomes Marie and the Nutcracker-Prince to the Land of Sweets.
“I love being part of a family Christmas tradition,” she said. “For me its not Christmas if you don’t hear The Nutcracker music playing.”
Fairchild took CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez backstage where the magic happens.
“As an audience member, I think there’s nothing more magical than all of those moments of The Nutcracker,” Fairchild said. “How is the tree growing? How is the Sugar Plum Fairy sliding across the floor in arabesque? How is the bed moving?”
Keeping those secrets are the New York City Ballet’s entire roster of 90 dancers, 62 musicians and more than 125 children, in two alternating casts from the School of American Ballet.
Fairchild says the grown up dancers do their own hair and make-up before slipping on their intricate costumes.
“And there’s crystals even on the inside of the skirt, so if a skirt flips up, the audience see them from both sides,” she said. “So we’re going for maximum glitter and sparkle.”
“This is the tutu for the Sugar Plum pas de deux,” she continued. “In my career I’ve probably had four or five of these made for me. I want to say a tutu is about $10,000.”
Fairchild says she wears brand new point shoes for every performance, then they become practice pairs.
The dancers rehearse for months before opening night. The show is seen by more than 100,000 people every year.
“I’m spreading cheer to all these people. I’m part of their family tradition, that’s fun,” Fairchild said. “I’m a festive person and I love that I get to be a part of people’s holiday.”
A delightful company of bears pays homage to the Nutcracker in their own special way in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. This iconic holiday showcase has been around since 1933 and draws crowds from all over the world.
No one kicks off the Christmas season in New York quite like the Radio City Rockettes with two alternating casts — 80 dancers in all.
“That’s actually one of my favorite parts of this job — being a part of a tradition and a legacy,” said Katy Walker, who has been a Radio City Rockette for 12 years.
Their precision moves — synchronized and syncopated — mesmerize spectators of all ages. As you can imagine, getting everyone to move in unison with swift foot work, sharp arms and yes, the kicks, takes weeks of grueling practice.
The Rockettes perform eight dances in the Spectacular, including their trademark toy soldier march, transporting audiences from the North Pole to Central Park in gorgeous costumes.
And some of those costumes are heavy. Santa’s suit, for example, weighs 10 pounds.
Even costume changes have to be choreographed.
“You have to take off your soldier costume, for example. This is a very fast change. 78 seconds.” Walker said.
“78 seconds to change?!” Sanchez asked in disbelief.
“Yes. And 36 women changing,” Walker responded.
This is Katie Milani’s first year as a Rockette, a job she dreamed about since she first saw the Rockettes on tour in Iowa when she was 11 years old.
“I remember looking at my mom and just saying ‘oh my gosh, I want to do that someday!'” she said.
And now Milani is doing that, joining 12 other rookie Rockettes and a team of veterans to bring Christmas dreams to life.
“You see the little children up dancing or you know you just see people bopping their heads and clapping and taking pictures,” said Walker. “And just seeing the magic that we bring to their day, even if its only for 90 minutes, it’s magical for us, and it reminds us day in and day out how special this job is.”