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The Rockettes

Between shows, dancers Amy Klingler and Melissa Zaremba step out of the kick line and into the food court

It's easy to spot Amy Klingler and Melissa Zaremba at their table at Legal Sea Foods in Copley Place. It's not their stage makeup, false eyelashes, or even their matching black Rockettes jerseys. It's the way they sit -- straight as an arrow, as if they're ready to step into a kick line at any minute. The dancers just finished today's 2 p.m. matinee at the Wang Theatre and have about an hour before that night's 8 o'clock show to satisfy their cravings for seafood, candy, shopping, and coffee.

Time is one thing the two of them would love more of, especially in Boston. Both 20-somethings, who were freshman-year roommates at Oklahoma State University, love Boston and requested to be assigned to this cast, one of four traveling shows of the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular." Klingler, an Indiana native, explains that the audience is close to the stage at the Wang Theatre, and she loves to see and hear the kids' reactions. When she's tired, their energy helps sustain her, especially on a four-show day. During the last Rockettes tour in Boston two years ago, Zaremba, who is from Chicago, rode the T on her days off and did all of her holiday shopping. Once she spotted the camel from the show's nativity scene strolling alone on Tremont Street. The handler was in pursuit, though, she says, and "seemed to have things under control."

The publicist for the Boston show, who keeps checking her watch as the dancers talk, looks relieved when the food arrives. As the women dig into their healthy meals of seafood, vegetables, and rice, Klingler points out with a giggle that their dressing room has "lots of sweets."

After dinner, the women head for Truffles, walking past boxes of chocolate soldiers (imagine) and discussing the truffle selection. "People think we only eat salad," Klingler says with a laugh.

Next on the to-do list: coffee. On the way to the food court, where Klingler figures she can also get a cookie, they make a quick stop at a cart loaded with hats. Klingler encourages Zaremba to try on a red one with ear flaps similar to the one she bought on another shopping trip.

"We're very practical -- caffeine and warm hats," Zaremba says as they sip their coffee. Klingler gets hers with skim milk -- calories must be saved when you have a Snickerdoodle, right? Klingler stops to admire a small decorated table tree, which she says would look good in their room. Decorating their shared hotel room for the holidays is another favorite pastime for the duo when they're on tour.

Zaremba kneels down to tie her sneaker, and the photographer starts clicking away. She jokes that she feels like a movie star caught coming out of the supermarket, which brings up the subject of Britney Spears' lack of underwear in a recent photograph. "In the dressing room, all the girls were asking 'What's happened to her?'" Zaremba says.

It's already time to head back to the theater for a massage and maybe some physical therapy. And they deserve it. This year's program includes a new 7 1/2-minute tap number to "The 12 Days of Christmas," which adds up to 30 minutes performing one number on Saturdays, the day they do four two-hour shows.

We pass a store with little black dresses in the window that would be perfect for New Year's Eve. But that's the day of the final Boston show, and if there's a cast party that night, it's usually casual -- so no black dresses. But there's not a word of complaint about working through the holidays year in and year out. For Klingler, who dreamed of being a Rockette when she was a little girl, the job is still a dream.

The dancers get ready to go outside on this freezing night wearing matching quilted black Kenneth Cole coats, which they bought at Macy's while performing here two years ago during a blizzard. Back onstage, they'll be dressed alike again -- as soldiers, Raggedy Ann dolls, and reindeer-- and then they'll do it all again the next day -- four times over.

June Wulff can be reached at

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