The city sidewalks will be less-busy sidewalks this year, as New York closes parts of four streets to traffic around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall to ease congestion. The partial closures of Fifth Avenue, Sixth Avenue, 49th Street, and 50th Street continue through Jan. 6.
That’s what’s new in midtown. What’s old is noteworthy, too, with plenty of holiday traditions that still hold up:
The Radio City Music Hall “Christmas Spectacular.” The Rockettes continue to precision-kick in their chorus lines, as they have since 1933. This year the show combines high-tech visuals with the classic numbers, including “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” with its amazing domino collapse of the chorus. And, as always, there’s the “Living Nativity” tableau vivant of the Bethlehem manger, complete with live camels. (Through Jan. 5, tickets at rockettes.com/christmas.)
Slava’s Snowshow. This is another old-timey production, originally created by a Russian clown. Each scene paints a picture: a shark swimming in a misty sea; sad goodbyes on a railway platform; the entire audience enveloped in a gigantic web; a wave of vibrant balloons bouncing off the fingertips of theatergoers; and a world-renowned roaring snowstorm of a finale. (Through Jan. 5, Stephen Sondheim Theatre, tickets at slavaonbroadway.com.)
A Christmas Carol. In another tradition, Patrick Stewart will perform his acclaimed one-man version of Charles Dickens’ classic for two nights only, Dec. 11 and Dec. 13, at Theater 511 on West 54th Street to benefit City Harvest and Ars Nova.If you’re feeling lucky, try the ticket lottery at todaytix.com for a chance at two $25 tickets.
For a different take on A Christmas Carol, there’s a musical adaptation that’s an import from London, now playing at the Lyceum Theatre. This one, by playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and director Matthew Warchus (Matilda), stars Campbell Scott as Scrooge.and includes a dozen Christmas carols. (Through Jan. 5, tickets at shubert.nyc/theatres/lyceum.)
Big Apple Circus. The show under the big top in the Big Apple is, for me, the best family holiday treat. It’s old-fashioned in the nicest way, with thrilling daredevils, high-flying aerialists, and lots of musclemen and women in sparkly costumes. And there’s none of the worst of circuses. The animal acts — no whips — are two beautiful horses and several trained Persian cats. The clown isn’t scary but is an adorable pigeon who can’t fly and poops on people’s heads. (Through Feb. 2 at Lincoln Center, tickets at bigapplecircus.com.)
And to escape from Christmas overload ...
Speaking of old-fashioned pleasures, Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operetta, The Mikado, will play Dec. 27-Jan. 5 at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, on 68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. It first was staged at London’s Savoy Theatre way, way back in 1885. (Tickets at hunter.cuny.edu/kayeplayhouse.)
And just when you’re thinking, Wait a minute, what about Hanukkah? … here comes the YI Love New York YiddishFest, from the Yiddishkayt Initiative (YI). This inaugural festival, Dec. 21-29, features a lineup of theatrical presentations, concerts, film screenings, lectures, panel discussions, and more. Tickets for all events are available online at yiddishfest.org.
Or, if family entertainment is not what you’re after, consider The Imbible: Christmas Carol Cocktails, a musical comedy with drinks. It’s at the Producer’s Club (358 W. 44th St.) through Dec. 28. Now in its fifth year, it’s becoming a holiday tradition. (Tickets at imbible.nyc/christmas-carol-cocktails.)
Finally, if you’re curious about the backstage world and the history of Broadway theater, the Hudson Theatre has just launched a half-mile walking tour with stories of the famous actors who trod those boards. The 1-hour, 45-minute tour is offered Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 11 a.m. Tickets are $37 for adults and $32 for children under 13. Meet at the Broadway Up Close Kiosk in Times Square. (Tickets at broadwayupclose.com/broadwaysbeginnings.)