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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Mariah Carey Takes Over Proctors in Schenectady as Christmas Queen


SCHENECTADY⁣ – Mariah Carey is a ⁣household name, especially during the holiday season.‍ Her⁤ Christmas songs are on heavy rotation on Christmas radio, earning ​her the title ‌of the Queen of Christmas. But did you know that she once taped an entire television special, “Here Is Mariah ⁤Carey,” broadcast nationally on NBC,‍ right here in Schenectady, at Proctors?

It was actually 30 ‌years ago ‌this year, and tied to another​ holiday, Thanksgiving. It​ involved a performer at ⁤the top of her⁤ fame, adoring fans, a top-notch ‍photogenic ‌venue ‌- and not one holiday‌ song.

Behind the Scenes of Mariah Carey’s Special

Republished below is our entire behind-the-scenes article from the July‌ 1993 taping, published ahead of the Thanksgiving 1993 airing. Also check ‌out embedded video from ⁢the actual ​special, which also feature arguably the⁢ other star of the show, Proctors itself.

Archives ‍1993:​ Proctor’s show was huge event for⁣ Carey fans

Special taped during summer to air Thanksgiving on NBC

November 21, 1993

By Michael Lisi/The Daily Gazette

SCHENECTADY – Mariah Carey’s fan club members were in for​ a treat when ⁤they got tickets for the ⁤July 15 show for free ⁣from the fan club, just for being a member. The ‌show was the first of two performances taped⁤ at⁤ the theater for the singer’s NBC-TV Thanksgiving Day special that will be aired locally at 10 p.m. ‍on WNYT-TV Channel‍ 13.

Carey,​ along with a ‍10-piece⁤ band, performed about‍ 20 songs for the special during her stint at the theater. Performances‍ from both tapings, including ⁤a segment she did with children from the Albany Police Athletic ⁣League, were used for the special.

Tickets, which some fans said were‍ being scalped for ⁢$150 or more, ⁤were ⁤not sold for the event. They were given⁤ away by Carey’s fan ⁣club headquartered in Branford, Conn., and by several area radio stations.

In ‌all, some 4,500 seats were distributed for the two taping ​sessions, according to a spokesman for Proctor’s Theatre. Tickets for both performances – especially seats in ​the first 20 rows reserved for ⁢fan club members by Carey herself – were arguably​ the⁣ most sought-after stubs of ⁤the summer.

Because the 23-year-old Carey has ⁣never done a tour and rarely performs live, ‌seeing her in the ornate, 2,700-seat venue was a dream come true for many of the ⁤singer’s fans.

Very special occasion

Add⁣ to that the excitement of being able to watch Carey tape her first television special ⁢in person, and it gets easier ‍to ⁢understand why some fans traveled ‍from as far away as Alaska and Washington state to ‍be⁢ in Schenectady on a steamy July night.

“This is‍ like a big event,” said harried⁣ Joyce Logan, manager of ⁣Carey’s​ fan club, as she avoided a⁢ technician while helping club members find their seats.

“People are taking a ⁣week off and ‍coming here for their vacations.”

Logan said more than⁢ 1,300 members of Carey’s fan club had requested tickets to view the taping.

Carey apparently chose Proctor’s because⁢ of its beauty and proximity to her home, said Ric Mitchell, disc jockey at ‍WKLI-FM, who ⁢was at the taping.‌ She has a home in Hillsdale, southeast of​ Hudson near the New York-Massachusetts border, from which she commuted to Proctor’s via limousine.

Proctor’s was⁢ filled​ to capacity for the first taping on ⁤July 15. The 67-year-old theater was transformed into a large television/recording studio ⁣as‌ a New York City production crew set up its equipment ‍and prepared to create the hour-long Thanksgiving Day‌ television feast.

Close to 100 ​sound and ⁢light technicians, camera operators,⁣ producers and other crew⁢ members were on hand that night, running wires of all types, setting up lights of all‍ sizes and positioning cameras.

Two rows of seats were​ removed in the⁤ theater’s mid-section and railroad-like tracks ​laid‍ so technicians could dolly around a camera⁣ on wheels.

Almost every crew member‌ scurrying around was wearing a headset or carrying a ‍walkie-talkie and gabbing with some other crew member about some ⁣aspect of ⁣the taping.

At least nine cameras, situated in all parts of the theater,⁣ were ‍used to capture Carey on film. A camera attached to a 25-foot-long motorized boom⁢ swung up and ‍down periodically as crews tested ‍its mobility.

Wires and lights seemed to be everywhere‍ as technicians​ made last-minute equipment checks. ‍Crews ‍spent⁣ part of two days setting up their equipment.

“We’re going to do⁢ video tomorrow​ and it will be great,” ⁢one production assistant said to ⁤another ​as  they watched ⁣the⁢ activity from the‍ back of the theater.

Upstairs, a section ⁣was cordoned off and‍ converted into a VIP lounge  to entertain Sony Music Corp. big-wigs up from New York City to watch ‍the taping. Carey is married to Thomas Mottola, president and chief operating officer⁣ of Sony Music ​Corp.

Hot ticket

Meanwhile, Carey fans who weren’t club members found themselves scrambling to grab a⁣ good seat almost from the minute they entered the t heater -⁣ the only reserved seats were for⁢ fan club members.

Several people reported getting  tickets through ‍”connections” ⁢they were reluctant ‌to identify, but ⁣for most, ​a call to radio stations in response⁤ to ⁢a ⁢promotion ⁣was the route to the taping.

Schenectady resident Margaret ​Osborne, 29, didn’t have the necessary connections, so she ‍sat by ‍her phone for hours before ⁤winning tickets ⁢for herself ⁢and her sister in ‌a radio​ giveaway.

She wasn’t alone, as more than 200 pairs of tickets for both shows​ were⁢ given⁤ away ​by ​local radio​ stations ⁢weeks before the tapings were set to⁣ start.

“People were calling in with bribes to get ​tickets,” disc jockey Mitchell said. ‌”They were​ doing anything they could to try to ‌weasel tickets.”

All the tickets that had been up for grabs had been snapped up by this point. The only thing ⁢left⁣ to do was to just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

After about an⁣ hour ​of waiting, WFLY-FM disc jockey Michael Morgan took the ⁤stage and started to warm up the crowd. ‍Meanwhile, Carey’s ​five back-up singers and her band – all dressed in black – began to look for their marks on stage.

The show was about 15 minutes away from starting.

“It’s⁢ time to ​get busy,” said a ⁢technical⁣ assistant as ​she brushed past a reporter.

The lights dimmed and the band began to play. From behind one ​of the large ‍triangle-shaped ‍backdrops on stage⁢ emerged Carey, ⁤wearing a⁤ black top and tight bell-bottom pants.

As the crowd erupted ​into cheers, Carey waved to them and threw them kisses as she⁤ launched‍ into song. Carey generated all the excitement of⁢ a concert ‌as she belted out ‌her opening number.

For her second song, Carey‍ delivered ⁢a very passionate version of the ballad “Love Takes Time.” Then the petite ‌singer walked to the side of the stage to make room for a small hoard⁤ of technicians who seemed ⁤to appear⁢ from nowhere ‍to reset the ⁤stage for the next set of songs.

She appeared uneasy about the ⁣interruption and kept ⁢apologizing to the crowd.

Necessary delays

The “concert” stopped several more times, as technicians reset the stage and ⁣cued the audience to cheer loudly in certain parts⁢ of Carey’s songs.

Carey herself needed the breaks to ‍change her wardrobe,⁤ which she did twice during the three-hour taping.

“More TV stuff … don’t‍ be⁣ mad at me,” Carey cooed ⁤to‌ the crowd during one break as she trotted ⁤off stage for another costume change.

Mad ⁤was ⁢the last thing 22-year-old Tony⁣ Maggiacomo was as he watched everything from his ​first-row seat with friend Jennifer Andreozzi. Maggiacomo, Andreozzi and two friends drove from Warwick, R.I., ‍to be at the​ show.

“We touched her!,” ‍said Maggiacomo, explaining‌ that the ⁤magic moment took place ‌during‌ one of Carey’s excursions into ‌the audience to shake hands ⁣with‌ her ‍fans‌ while​ she was singing.

Julie Konifka of Stillwater and Sherry Blowers of Niskayuna, sitting in obstructed-view seats on the theater’s far left side, said they didn’t really mind the⁢ interruptions.

“As long ‌as we get to hear her voice,”⁢ Konifka said.

Rafael Torres
Rafael Torres
Rafael Torres, a native of Schenectady, has returned to his hometown after several years of reporting in the Midwest. A graduate of Missouri School of Journalism, Alex is known for his empathetic approach to local news, covering everything from community events to local governance, always with an aim to bridge diverse perspectives.
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  1. Disagree: Mariah Carey is the true embodiment of holiday music and her performance at Proctors will be nothing short of legendary. #AllHailTheChristmasQueen


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