That living nativity comes complete with a real donkey for Mary, sheep for the shepherds, and camels for the wise men. The troupe travels with some 200 hats and 300 costumes — and how gorgeous those costumes are, with lovely silk snowflake simulations, for example, each twinkling with hundreds of Swarovski crystals.

Many more than the dozen and a half Rockettes are required to take the show on the road — cast and crew total 100-plus, traveling to 26 cities this year. A dozen singers and dancers supplement the Rockettes, so there are frequently 30 performers filling the stage, in addition to four little people occasionally playing dancing snowmen and Santa's elves.

Unlike Ginger Rogers with Fred Astaire, these twinkle-toed young women don't have to dance backwards, but they are still going to quite a lot of trouble for us. The least we can do is come, appreciate, and applaud.

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