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Famed Radio City Rockettes bringing NYC Christmas show to Canada next year

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TORONTO (CP) - Santa Claus came to town early Tuesday and he brought some Christmas stockings with him.

And the stockings were stuffed with legs.

And the legs were attached to six Rockettes, the famed high-kicking dance troupe that has been a staple at New York's Radio City Music Hall since 1933.

It was all part of a media event to announce that the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring both Santa and the Rockettes will be making its first road-show appearance in Canada next Christmas - that's right, Christmas 2006 - at Toronto's Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts.

"Ho, ho, eh?" Santa bellowed as he posed with the leggy dancers and with a group of local public school children who sat at his feet on a makeshift stage in the theatre lobby.

Dan Brambilla, CEO of the Hummingbird, conceded that importing the lavish production was part of the effort to reinvent the theatre which is about to lose its opera and ballet.

It's the final season there for the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada, which will both move next year to the Four Seasons Centre.

"I think the rumours of our demise are greatly exaggerated," Brambilla said. The 84 performances of the Christmas Spectacular will run from Nov. 14 to Dec. 31, 2006.

The show includes marching wooden soldiers, dancing teddy bears, snowmen, reindeer and elves.

"We anticipate that we will attract audiences from not only Toronto's GTA but also from regional markets throughout Ontario and Quebec as well as northern border markets from the United States," said Brambilla.

In 1984 the show began out-of-town performances across the United States. It requires a cast and crew of more than 100 to stage, including 20 Rockettes, 22 singers and dancers, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

© The Canadian Press, 2005

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