« Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

L.A. musicians union objects to lack of live music in touring Rockettes show

December 10, 2010 |  4:07 pm


When the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular opens in Los Angeles Friday for a three-day engagement, it will be greeted by fans and families who came to experience festive holiday entertainment. The show will also be greeted by local union members who aren't pleased that producers have decided to use pre-recorded music instead of live musicians.

The touring version of the Christmas Spectacular plays through Sunday at the Nokia Theatre in the L.A. Live complex in downtown L.A. The show, which stars the famous Rockettes, is a version of the annual holiday production that takes place at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

L.A.'s Professional Musicians Local 47, a branch of the American Federation of Musicians that represents thousands of professional musicians in Southern California, said Friday that it is unhappy with the use of pre-recorded music and that representatives of the union will be handing out fliers near the Nokia Theatre. 

"It's not about bashing the Rockettes. We all love the Rockettes. It's our concern about the absence of live music," said John Acosta, vice president of the Local 47, in a phone interview.

Acosta said that the New York version of the show uses live musicians while the touring version uses taped music as well as a soundtrack featuring voices and tap-dancing sounds.

A spokeswoman for Madison Square Entertainment -- the company behind the touring show -- issued a statement Friday saying that the touring production of the Christmas Spectacular "was designed specifically for the use of recorded music."

MSE also said that the recorded music features a "56-piece orchestra and state of the art audio technology [to ensure] that our patrons experience the highest sound quality."

When the touring show played in Boston earlier this month, the Boston Musicians' Assn. voiced similar complaints about the use of pre-recorded (or "canned") music. The union reportedly launched an aggressive campaign on the radio and in person around the city.

The L.A. union said it plans to take a more low-key approach to their protest. "We are going to approach management afterward to see if we can come to an agreement," said Acosta.

The union said that major musical touring shows that come through the Pantages Theatre or the Ahmanson Theatre usually employ local musicians.

-- David Ng

Photo: members of the Rockettes at an event in New York. Credit: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images


Lyle Lovett adds a twang of bluegrass to Shakespeare with Helen Hunt along for the ride

Late-night TV shows join in the 'Spider-Man' musical frenzy

Theater review: 'West Side Story' at the Pantages Theatre



Comments () | Archives (6)

why bother with actual Rockettes in the touring show? couldn't a hologram or filmed version be easier (& more profitable for MSG?). who needs live performers on stage? just phone in the whole event.

wonder if they use the REAL Santa Claus in the show???!!!

The issue for me is paying for something I'm not getting.

Why pay big $ for canned music?

The show is not about music or musicians, it's about the young pretty ladies raising their long naked legs up high... at least for me it is

Canned music NEVER NEVER has the dynamics of live music, people who go to see this show are going to be paying real, hard earned $$ for something they might as well see on their TV. I am not a musician, but if I am going to shell out serious cash for a live show, that show better be exactly that, LIVE

One of the reasons that the Boston Musician's Association is being more aggressive is that the show isn't just in Boston for three days, it's a month-long show at the Wang Center with thirty performances left before the end of the month. That's a lot of services that could be work for union musicians.


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Explore the arts: See our interactive venue graphics


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.