Falling in Line – Behind the Scenes of Hallmark’s “A Holiday Spectacular” with the Radio City Rockettes

“It’s so iconic to pair Hallmark Channel with the Radio City Rockettes,” Hallmark’s SVP of programming and development Samantha DiPippo said during a TCA press conference to promote the original film A Holiday Spectacular. Debuting on Sunday, November 27th, the film is set in 1958 and follows a young woman who follows her dream to become a Rockette. “We have 40 original Christmas movies, but I will say A Holiday Spectacular, which has been a passion project of mine for several years, it is definitely the star on the top of our Christmas tree this year.”

(Hallmark Media/David Scott Holloway)

(Hallmark Media/David Scott Holloway)

“No one can believe that we hadn’t yet found a way to bring everybody together,” joked writer Julie Sherman Wolfe about the collaboration between two of the Christmas season’s most popular brands, the Radio City Rockettes and Hallmark Channel. “When we started meeting about it, realizing how special it would be to set this movie right when the biggest turning point was for the Rockettes. It’s set in 1958. The first year they were ever in the Thanksgiving Parade was 1957. So that was a huge turning point for them, and this is also a huge turning point for our character and women in general in the late 50s really coming into their own and realizing that they can follow their own dreams and not just what society planned or expected for them.”

“The next best thing to being a Rockette is playing one on TV,” gushed actress Ginna Claire Mason, who stars as Maggie. “I'm from Nashville, Tennessee. I saw The Rockettes perform there. This was actually my first time going to Radio City. These women are incredible athletes. They're so disciplined. They're so good at what they do. I just have all the respect in the world for their talent. But then on a whole other level, the kindness that was shown to me, along with a couple other actresses, the first time we got to step on stage with them after rehearsing in another room on our own. You know, there they are, The Radio City Rockettes! And we stepped onto that stage, and all the girls [cheered]. Immediately, all my nerves melted away. And just to be welcomed into that sisterhood from that first moment, it's such an honor. And then the honor of getting to wear those costumes alongside these women, I felt undeserving, just knowing how much hard work they have done to stand in these costumes, to stand on this stage, to wear these shoes in front of 6000 people. It was a huge honor and I just have all the respect in the world for them.”

“There's such a technique to being a Rockette that's unlike any other,” explained Sydney Mesher, a Rockette featured in the film. “I have been doing the show since graduating college, and it's been such a joy. Truly the sisterhood, the history, the legacy, and especially helping with diversity, being the first visibly disabled Rockette is such an honor to be here and to be living this dream.” The film uses some of the troupe’s legacy choreography, but the dancers featured on screen are the modern Rockettes, more diverse lineup than audiences would’ve seen in 1958, including changes to height requirements. “We are really just excited to have diversity on the screen. And with the height adjustment this year for the auditions, that opens up the job to hundreds of women who can come and audition to be a Rockette. So it's really important to us to have diversity be at the forefront, so everybody sees themselves represented in the line.”

(Hallmark Media/David Scott Holloway)

(Hallmark Media/David Scott Holloway)

Ginna Claire Mason shares the role of Maggie with legendary actress, dancer, and singer Anne-Margaret, who plays the character in the present day. “For us, as dancers, to even be in the presence of Ann-Margret is unbelievable,” shared Rockette dancer Danelle Morgan. “She spoke with us at length, and she just talked about the memories that she had of being in Radio City and of dancing and performing… It’s unspeakable, this urge that we have as dancers, and it’s something that Ginna Claire as Maggie [goes through]. It was this unspeakable thing that she had to do and had to pursue, and that’s something that we all feel as dancers, and to hear that from the Ann-Margret and to identify with the Ann-Margret was incredible.”

Featured in A Holiday Spectacular is a classic Rockettes routine from 1933 called “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” which features a moment where the dancers line up and fall in unison, each successive Rockette breaking the fall of the one in front. “It’s a great metaphor for the whole movie because that’s what it’s all about,” concluded Julie Sherman Wolfe. “It’s all about being there for each other, and it’s just the perfect visualization of that is literally catching each other, and that’s what this is all about. It’s all about the sisterhood, and they’re a family, and we notice that the [actors and dancers] became a family, too, and it was just beautiful.”

A Holiday Spectacular premieres Sunday, November 27th, at 8/7c on Hallmark Channel, now available through Peacock and Hulu + Live TV.

2022 Holiday Season coverage is presented by shopDisney