Christmas is coming early to Happy Valley this year.
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular national tour, starring the world-famous Rockettes, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21 at Bryce Jordan Center, University Park.
"'New York at Christmas' brings a little bit of New York to every single city we go to," said Traci Reszetlyo-Grimm, a Rockette who's originally from Pittsburgh.
The Rockettes perform during their Christmas Spectacular.
The 1 p.m. performance has sold the most tickets so far, said Bernie Punt, marketing director for Bryce Jordan Center. Punt said the facility worked with Madison Square Garden to schedule the Rockettes' stop around Penn State football - on Nov. 21, the Nittany Lions play at Michigan State University.
"This is the same show they've been performing in New York City for over 70 years," he said, "right in your own backyard."
This year, the tour will hit 31 cities; last year, the Rockettes toured 18. It's the first time the show will appear in the area.
If you go
What: Radio City Christmas Spectacular
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 and 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21
Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park
Tickets: $49.50, $69.50 from www.bjc.psu.edu or 865-5555
The tour was designed to play in large venues and features a large LED screen that will transport the audience from a wintry landscape to Times Square to Santa's workshop at the North Pole.
"I'm super excited to be going to State College," Reszetlyo-Grimm said. "We did so well in Pittsburgh - we did awesome in Pittsburgh. It's a massive tour for us. ... It's going to be a little bit crazy."
In mid-September, Reszetlyo-Grimm and her fellow Rockettes were getting ready for the tour during what she described as a "grueling rehearsal period." She's been with the group for eight years.
"We're a precision dance troupe, and we rehearse six days a week for six hours at a time," she said.
"I think we all just come into it ready for it. We're dedicated dancers who work really well together. ... Every line is different each year."
The women who make up each line may differ, but "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and "The Living Nativity" have been Rockette staples since the troupe's inception in 1933.
Reszetlyo-Grimm said she loves feeling like part of the group's history in "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers."
"It's had the same choreography since 1933," she said. "As a Rockette, you feel like part of a tradition."
In the number, the Rockettes fall backward onto one another like Dominoes.
"Everybody thinks that move is so easy, but everybody has to do their job in that fall," Reszetlyo-Grimm said. "It really takes a lot of strength."
The Rockettes have added some new choreography to the modern numbers, like "New York at Christmas," so even those who've seen the show in other cities in other years will be treated to something new, Reszetlyo-Grimm said.
But there's a routine in its own right going on backstage as well, with costume changes.
"Sometimes you only have 90 seconds for a costume change," Reszetlyo-Grimm said. "So there's a choreography going on backstage as well as onstage. ... With it being live theater, you never know what little thing goes wrong. If they have to sew you up in your costume ... they kind of have to rip you out of it for the next costume. It keeps you on your toes, of course."
The craziness can happen up to four times a day during the peak of the tour, when the Rockettes are performing multiple shows each day.
It's a schedule that's "very grueling on the body," Reszetlyo-Grimm said - but one that creates room for holiday goodies.
"When you're exercising that much, you really have to fuel your body," she said. "We can pretty much eat whatever we want during the Christmas season."
But despite the city-hopping and intense regimen, Reszetlyo-Grimm wouldn't want her holidays any other way.
"I'm just so proud to be a part of the tradition," she said. "Everybody from around the world knows what the Rockettes are."
Mirror Staff Writer Ashley Gurbal is at 946-7435.