Eighteen women line up on a sidewalk in New York City, dressed in identical shimmering dresses. Their lips are red and their hair is all done up in French twists. They wait to cross the street—no easy feat in the Big Apple.
Yet as soon as their iconic shoes hit the pavement, traffic comes to a halt—no taxis honk, no pedestrians yell. Everyone is smiling. The Radio City Rockettes are on the move, and the world pauses. “These women have an interesting effect on the public, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the job,” says Vice President of Productions and Rockettes Administration Jeff Capitola ’83.
“For instance, we can cross the street from Radio City to The TODAY Show plaza without any trouble. And it’s New York. There’s no patience here. But as soon as these women are spotted, people smile.”
Capitola’s path to Radio City began at Denison, where he was required as a theatre major to spend one semester off campus. He chose New York and found himself interning at a Broadway general manager’s office.
“I initially wanted to be an actor and had no interest in theatrical management. But when I was offered a job at Marvin A. Krauss Associates, I couldn’t turn it down. Here I am 32 years later, still in the game and loving it,” says Capitola, who managed tours of Dream Girls and Cats before Radio City called with a job.
“It’s an honor to work here,” says Capitola. “You see joy in the audience. They gasp when the Living Nativity’s first camel crosses the stage; little kids lose their minds when Santa appears at the top of the show. It’s a great environment.”
But the joy doesn’t happen without a lot of work.
For instance, the Rockettes perform their Christmas Spectacular roughly 30 times a week, up to six times a day. Two sets of Rockettes also make more than 200 appearances—from photo ops to televised performances to parties—on top of their regular shows.
And this is just during the holidays. While the Rockettes are best known for their Christmas show, they also perform, test new material, and run dance camps throughout the year.
Capitola oversees all of this, and he largely credits Denison for his ability to do so.
“The faculty gave me and my classmates a true company environment. We were allowed to have responsibility and stumble and learn in that way. I have a tremendous fondness for the school. It set me on a path that led me here,” he says.