Reprinted from yesterday's late edition.
The show will go on at Radio City Music Hall. In this city where bated breath has become a fact of life. New Yorkers received another 11th-hour reprieve early yesterday for one of its most cherished institutions.
It was announced that an agreement had been reached yesterday between the state and Rockefeller Center Inc. to operate the famed showplace for up to one year while a subsidiary of the State Urban Development Corporation, headed by Lt. Gov. Mary Anne Krupsak, studies the feasibility of taking over the hall.
According to officials, the state has pledged $500,000 to keep the music hall alive during the interim period and another $2 million in standby money to be used as needed. Permomances continued without interruption yesterday.
Rockefeller Center had said it would close the music hall Wednesday because of deficits that were expected to reach $3 million this year.
But Wednesday night, when the Rockettes thought they might be making their last appearance on the stage of the 45-year-old theater, they kicked and strutted and high-stepped to a sellout crowd.
While their futures hung in the balance the Rockettes didn't miss a beat or fault a step. The 30 performers, dressed at one point in flowing nuns' grab. sang and danced in their traditionally elaborate Easter pageant. Leaving the stage in an array of lilies, they returned as a group of chubby little bunnies hopping and hoofing delightfully across the cavernous stage.
A receptive audience cheered loudly and popped flash bulbs when the company began its final number. Magenta plumes bobbed and swayed atop their heads as the Rockettes danced around a makeshift carousel, then marched out on a ramp in front of the orchestra for what could have been their final bow.
The audience rose to its feet and cheered. Many threw golden mums and yellow daffodils to the teary-eyed dancers, and a Radio City usher in silver tophat and matching tux presented each woman with a rose.
"I've been dancing here for 12 years," said Seila Rodriquez. "I've never felt like a star until the last few days. Now that we're in the news we get standing ovations every night."
The audience Wednesday filled all 6,200 seats - a rare event in the art deco music hall that has lost $10 million since 1970.
In the audience were more than 200 retired Rockettes who came from as far as Hawaii to see their younger successors give what they thought would be their final kicks.
Jennie Bolmer Lippy of Wheaton, Md., danced on opening day of Radio City in 1932. She was 16. "I was too excited to remember exactly what happened, but I do know we wore beautiful costumes. The Rockettes haven't changed much since then. It's still the high kicks and perfect precision."
Coliss Whitney's best friends are still the women she met as a Rockette from 1948-53. "I was the baby of the group. I came right out of high school. This is my college. Most of us married fellows who worked here.I can't imagine how they could close this place. The music hall is like the Empire State Building. If they close it, it will mean the end of New York," she said.
Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Hugh Carey had stated, "Within hours, or certainly a couple of days, we will announce our plans to save Radio City Music Hall and make it a permanent and increased tourist attraction in the city."
Last week word leaked out that New York's secretary of commerce, John W. Dyson, and Alton G. Marshall, president of Rockefeller Center, had worked out a plan to keep the music hall alive by subsidizing it with rent from a 20-story office building tower to be built over it.
Under the plan, both the tower and the music hall would eventually be operated by a non-profit corporation formed as a subsidiary to the Urban Development Corporation.
Part of the feasibility study proposed under yesterday's agreement will include looking into the possibilities for the 20-story tower.
When word of the settlement reached the Rockettes, the women wept openly and toasted one another. "We were always optimistic," smiled one happy dancer. "One day we were up, the next day we were down. I thought we'd all die of a heart attack before we ever found out the answer."