Meet Sam Buntrock: Creative Director of the New Finale Scene in This Year’s Christmas Spectacular

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ony-nominated director Sam Buntrock (Sunday in the Park with George) is bringing his Broadway background and creative vision to a brand-new finale scene in this year’s Christmas Spectacular. The new number, titled “Christmas Lights,” will transform Radio City Music Hall into a house of dazzle and wonder through the use of aerialists, drones, LED projections, and more.

The London native, who is known for marrying theater with technology, partnered with Obscura Digital to achieve this stunning display of innovation, which incorporates the use of 100 Intel® Shooting Star™ Mini drones* and will put it’s focus on the most famous Christmas light of all: the North Star.

Sam Buntrock discussing the new finale number with Rockettes Creative Director, Karen Keeler.

We chatted with Mr. Buntrock about what he loves most about the Christmas Spectacular and how he is helping to make this year’s show even more magical.

What inspires you about Christmas?
“Christmas connects to childhood, it connects to family, it connects to a sense of where one has come from and who one is, and ultimately, it’s a binary positivity—a very simple, hopeful time.”

And what do you love about the Christmas Spectacular?
“It’s so New York. It’s such a quintessential New York excellence thing where the scale, the history, the artistry, the dedication and the discipline of the Rockettes—all those things—can only happen here. It’s about something so powerful, but it’s also fun and uplifting. The Christmas Spectacular transcends so many boundaries and is the perfect example of how something traditional can continue into the modern age.”

What is your favorite number in the show?
“I think “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” as it’s the perfect example of “only on this stage will you see this.” It’s extraordinary, mesmerizing to watch. You get a sense of what it must have been like to watch way back when and it’s the same thrill [that] has been sustained through so many decades. It’s something incredibly traditional yet somehow always new because it’s a new group of women performing it, which I think is just a great capsule description of what the Christmas Spectacular is—this sublime sense of tradition, of class, of period, of time, but also these wonderful inflections of new ideas.”

How are you making the 2018 production magical?
“A magician would never describe his routine as ‘the mirror routine.’ He would describe it as ‘the great vanishing act’ and even though we’re incorporating LED projections, drones, aerialists, and other surprises, all of these things are the tools, like the mirrors. They all add up and make something greater than the sum of its parts. I’m looking forward to seeing an audience experience something which feels genuinely magical.”

*Intel and Intel Shooting Star are trademarks of Intel Corporation. For more information, see www.intel.com/lightshows

Join us at Radio City Music Hall for the 2018 production of the Christmas Spectacular—the show runs November 9 through January 1.