From Studio to Stage: Christmas Spectacular’s ‘Parade of the Wooden Soldiers’
The iconic “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” number in the Christmas Spectacular is a stunning display of precision and clever choreography and has been a fan favorite since the show’s inception in 1933 (even the costumes have remained nearly unchanged!).
“Wooden Soldiers is a classic. It’s really brilliantly done,” says Christmas Spectacular Director and Choreographer Julie Branam. While the movement in this number is fairly simple, the difficulty comes in executing precision in the straight-legged soldier walking. “It’s very important that the walk is done correctly. It’s lifting up your whole foot and putting your whole foot down without bending your leg,” says Julie. “It’s really an amazing feat to see 36 women have a straight line walking; it’s so classic and very smartly done.”
Executing the intricate formations requires hours of rehearsals dedicated to staging. “The girls in the center have the hardest job,” says Rockette Maranda L. “They’re the ones that set the pace for everyone else. They look at the floor and make sure they’re on their number and on their line. The rest of us guide to the center to make sure we stay completely straight.”
For “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” some of the best seats in the house are from the mezzanine levels where audiences can see the formation changes from above. “You get to appreciate all of the formations so much more,” says Rockette Maranda. “Everyone is keeping the lines completely straight so the audience can be wowed by it!”