Photo Flash: First Look - Audra McDonald, Ariana Grande & More Rehearse for CHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER

Related: CHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER, NBC, previews & teasers

NBC will celebrate the lighting of the world's most famous Christmas tree with a live broadcast from Rockefeller Center® in New York City on Wednesday, Dec. 4 (8-9 p.m. ET). The star-studded holiday special is hosted by "Today" anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales, and will feature performances from Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Goo Goo Dolls, Ariana Grande, Jewel, Leona Lewis, Audra McDonald and The Rockettes. McDonald also stars in "The Sound of Music Live!" on NBC, airing Dec. 5 (8-11p.m. ET). Ashanti and Alaina will perform only in the 7-8 p.m. ET hour airing on select NBC stations.

Below, watch the stars in rehearsal for NBC's big event!

The 81st annual holiday extravaganza will feature a 76-foot Norway Spruce that is 47 feet in diameter and weighs approximately 12 tons. The tree is estimated to be about 75 years old. More than 45,000 energy-efficient multi-colored LED lights will be strung to decorate the tree, topped with a 9 ½ foot wide LED-lit Swarovski crystal star.

The tradition of the Rockefeller Christmas tree dates back to the Great Depression. First erected in 1933, the inaugural tree was decked with 700 lights and placed in front of the then eight-month-old RCA Building (the current GE Building). The Christmas tree gathering was enhanced in 1936 with the opening of the Rockefeller Plaza outdoor ice-skating pond. NBC-TV televised the tree lighting for the first time in 1951 on "The Kate Smith Show" and as part of the nationwide "Howdy Doody" television show from 1953-55.

"Christmas in Rockefeller Center" is produced by Brad Lachman Productions with Lachman serving as executive producer. Bill Bracken will produce.

About Audra McDonald:

With a record-tying five Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and a long list of other accolades to her name, Audra McDonald is among today's most highly regarded performers. Blessed with a luminous soprano and an incomparable gift for dramatic truth-telling, she is equally at home on Broadway and opera stages as in roles on film and television. In addition to her theatrical work, she maintains a major career as a concert and recording artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world and with leading international orchestras. An exclusive Nonesuch recording artist, McDonald recently released her fifth album for the label, "Go Back Home," marking her first solo disc in seven years.

Photos by: David Giesbrecht/NBC

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Audra McDonald rehearses for "Christmas in Rockefeller Center"


Audra McDonald rehearses for "Christmas in Rockefeller Center"


Ariana Grande rehearses for "Christmas in Rockefeller Center"


Ariana Grande rehearses for "Christmas in Rockefeller Center"


Kelly Clarkson rehearses for "Christmas in Rockefeller Center"


Kelly Clarkson rehearses for "Christmas in Rockefeller Center"

high res photos




More On: NBC, Matt Lauer, Savannah, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Ariana Grande.

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