Christmas, The Bigger Picture

A Word About Christmas 2013

Final-Night copy

In 1991, I saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular for the first time and before the curtain came down on the performance I added the goal of someday performing on the great stage at Radio City Music Hall to my Bucket List. Eight years later, I auditioned for the show’s choreographer and director and pulled off what I knew was my best audition at the time and was rewarded with two contract offers, neither of which I could accept. Little did I know the opportunity to don elfwear and a baby bear ensemble with a matching bonnet (as well as Frosty the Snowman gear) would present itself again two years later, thanks to one of my other wildest dreams coming true.

If you’ve read Walking Tall: A Memoir About the Upside of Small and Other Stuff, you know the story of God summarily closing a door, but also knocking a wall down to grant me access to people, places, and experiences that otherwise would’ve never come my way. (And if you haven’t read Walking Tall yet, click the link above for info on where to purchase your copy and get caught up.)

For eleven consecutive years I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the best people in live theater across the country and in New York (six years in touring companies of the Christmas Spectacular and five years in New York).

At the close of my fifth season in New York (2011), I wept bitterly in the stage left wings as I knew in every fiber of my being that that would be my last year sporting elfwear for Radio City, but graciously God gave me another season, a bonus season if you will—the Christmas of 2012. That was pretty awesome indeed. And when that twelfth season came to an end, I shed no tears. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and satisfaction for having been so richly blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

I think you know where I’m going with this . . .

So to dispel any conjecture, here goes. Plain and simple, I won’t be returning to the Music Hall this year. Calls went out yesterday and today and I was not offered a contract. Given the way I’ve seen God work in my life, I see this not as a snub of any sort, but as another instance of God closing a door. This time I suspect He’ll rip the proverbial roof off to present my next opportunity. So rest assured there’ll be no worrying or wringing of hands on my end.

With that said, I’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Linda Haberman for giving twelve unbelievably glorious Christmas seasons that will be forever etched in my memory. To all the singers, dancers, crew, front of house hosts, animal handlers, musicians, production people it’s been an honor to work with and for you—you freakin’ rocked my world in ways you don’t even know. You really have become a second family to me. And to the friends I’ve made in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Minneapolis, Seattle, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston, and New York because of my involvement with the show, thank you for opening your hearts and extending your hospitality to me. You’ve all given me memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

To my friends who schlepped from as far as Honolulu and Amsterdam and points in between, thank you for deeming my small involvement in that little show at the Music Hall worthy of the your time, energy, and hard-earned dollars. This includes old Disney friends who had no idea I was even in the show until they saw me onstage, and everyone who ever asked for house tickets (yes, even those of you leisurely got me your ticket info). For me, seeing each of your radiant faces after a performance and parading you and yours around backstage made me feel like a king. Thank you for sharing your holidays, anniversaries, and once in a lifetime  moments with me.

As you can see this isn’t about me. It’s about all of you and how you, each in your own way, have enriched my life. With what you’ve all given me, there’s no way on Earth I could be bitter about it coming to an end.

So what’s next? I’m not at liberty to give details at the moment, but there’s been some exponential movement going on with one of my screenplays. All I can say is who knows what God’s got up his sleeve.

Break a leg, 2013 Radio City Christmas Spectacular Cast and Crew like I know you will!

I only hope someone’s going to pick up the Scones Thursday mantle and do me proud.

14 thoughts on “A Word About Christmas 2013”

  1. Becky Whigham Smith says:

    Beautifully said Clay! Your positive attitude and creative abilities will always take you in the right directions! I have loved watching you perform these past years and I know you will hold these memories as special and now you can go forth and make new ones! Enjoy Christmas this year Clay with your family/friends because that is pretty special too! Big hug to you my dear! Bek

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Becky, please pardon my delay in responding your comment. I was consumed with preparations for my visit up north. Thank you so very much for your encouraging words and kudos. I’ve had a great run and we’ll see what God has in store for me. I look forward to spending this Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve 2013 with family and local friends, as I’ve been on the road for the past twelve years. Cheer! —xox—

  2. Kim says:

    What an amazing run you’ve had, my friend! I’m shedding tears for you, but they are happy tears. God is busy opening doors, windows, roofs and more for you. Can’t wait for your next chapter!

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Kim, thank you so much. I’m glad to hear those are happy tears, sad ones would have been very out of place. I can hardly wait to see what’s next. And what about you and your literary masterpiece?

  3. Maureen Evans says:

    I am so excited for you, as my own life works in mysterious ways. Perhaps you could visit me in London?

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Thanks, Maureen! I’m pretty excited, too. London? Anything’s possible. After all, I’ve spent time in Los Angeles and New York. Why not visit London? It’s only a hop across the Pond. =)

  4. John N. says:

    Thank you, Clay for your backstage tours and access to the show. It is greatly appreciated. Every December I looked forward to our pre-show dinner and watching you perform. Now your great run has ended and I am unsure when I will see you again, but realize the time we spent together will be cherished dearly.

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      John, the please was all mine. Believe me. Hard to believe our friendship started via Twitter and my blog posts about my experiences in New York. Mine has most certainly has been a great run and thanks for being there every step of the way. Now let’s see what the next chapter holds and where our next meet-up will take place. Know that i’m looking forward to it.

  5. says:

    Clay, I am glad we got to see you on stage at Radio City Music Hall 2011. What a special memory for all of us! I am so proud of you and your accomplishments in life and careers, you are a talented soul. Keep us all informed of developments!

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Thank you, Chris. It have seemed a bit harried — the time I got to spend with you, Brad, your in-laws, et al — but I am honored that I got to share the time with you all. We pass this way, but once. Now if only my immediate family had been able to bear witness to me performing in that same spectacle. Thanks for your support and I love you more than espresso, my oldest friend … next to Mrs. Adams, of course. =)

  6. Ruth Sowers says:

    A fabulous run indeed my Friend! I am so glad I got to see you do it and get a tour too 🙂 Another exciting door will open!
    Grace and Peace,

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Ruth, I’m glad you got to see it, too! Thanks for making the trek. Peace be with you.

  7. Sitzy says:

    What an wonderful place in your life this show has been for you. As your next opportunity is presented, we readers await the next chapters to be written about whatever it turns out to be. Thanks for letting us “experience” your Spectacular adventures with you over these years… I can hardly wait to read what happens next.

    1. Clay Rivers says:

      Sitzy, thanks for the encouraging words. It’ll be interesting to see what comes to fruition. Thank YOU for coming along for the ride. Like they say on Bravo, watch what happens! —xox—

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