Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year, but it remains to be seen whether or not the Chicago market will adjust to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular beginning and ending its area run almost a month earlier than usual. But then, this is the Christmas show by which all others are measured, a holiday tradition since 1933 when the Radio City Music Hall would stage live Christmas shows in between movie screenings and also existing in various touring incarnations as well. The show is relentless, with one spectacular production number following another, including a send-up of “The Nutcracker” complete with dancing Teddy Bears, a peek inside Santa’s workshop and a magical world of singing toys complete with Santa’s elves (played by real midgets) and Rockefeller Center at Christmastime, right down to the big Christmas tree and the snow. And then there’s the Rockettes, that line of sleek, gorgeous women who dance and sing their hearts out in stunning, sexy costumes and who open the show with a new reindeer number, one of five new scenes this year. Just when you think the whole thing couldn’t possibly top itself, you’re magically transported back to Bethlehem and the first Christmas in a living nativity that includes all of the trappings, from shepherds and magi—with real camels, no less—to Mary and Joseph arriving on a live donkey. By the time the Star of Bethlehem shines through the theater and the cattle and sheep are lowing—literally—it’s hard not to get that radiant burst of feeling that only comes with the true spirit of Christmas. (Dennis Polkow)
Rosemont Theater, 5400 N. River Rd., Rosemont, (312)559-1212. $24.50-$56.50. Through Dec 2.