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New Review of Showstoppers with “new” cast member Rachel Tyler




In the world of Broadway musicals, there’s a term to describe a song that stands out above the rest of the selections. A song or a performance that is so over the top that it’s known as a showstopper. Steve Wynn has brought a show to Las Vegas that is simply known as ShowStoppers because every song and every performance is a pinnacle of magical interpretation.

I had the pleasure of seeing this magnificent show on my last trip to Las Vegas and for those of you that read that first blog, you know how much I loved it, but I have to say, this time around, it was even better than I remembered. From the first sweet musical note to the final curtain and exit music, I was enthralled, enchanted and completely entertained. There is no other show that compares to this extravagant production that encompasses the best of the best. Both in musical selection and in the talented performers that do what they do so extraordinarily well.

When I first saw this show, I absolutely raved about the lead female cast members and I have to tell you that I’m in awe of the three gorgeous and talented women that grace the Encore theatre six nights a week. One of the leading ladies left the show recently and I knew that Kerry O’Malley was irreplaceable. I was convinced that no matter how good the new female lead was, she wouldn’t be able to touch the performance of Ms. O’Malley.

Well, I was wrong. Rachel Tyler is a beauty that hails from the United Kingdom and has a resume that includes national tours with Mamma Mia, Grease, Fame and The Rocky Horror Show. Ms. Tyler was every bit as good as her predecessor, while still bringing something new and vibrant to the stage. Her voice is unbelievably strong and her stage presence was so powerful that from her first song, she had touched my heart and brought my emotions right to the surface. By the last song, I had tears running down my face and goose bumps on my arms. She’s believable, she’s natural and above all else, she’s definitely a star.



Joined by the two other female leads, Lindsay Roginski and Nicole Kaplan Fenton, she easily could fill the shoes of any great Broadway performer. The three of them together on one stage, makes this show worthy of the Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence, informally known as the Tony Award. I can’t say enough about these three stand out performers, but I will say that they make me wish I had just a smidgen of their talent.



The biggest difference between this show and the last one I saw was how impressed I was this time by the male leads. Randal Keith, David Burnham and Andrew Ragone were at the top of their game with this particular performance and I was more impressed than ever with their vocal range, powerhouse voices and stellar performances. Randal Keith was born to perform and he easily has one of the best voices out there. David Burnham and Andrew Ragone bring a masculinity to stage that rounds out the sweetness of the ladies.



Every song in this amazing show quickly becomes a favorite with hits from shows like, Cabaret, Chorus Line and Chicago. Not only was I mesmerized by the lead vocalists, but I was also blown away by the cast of fabulous dancers. All of them are extremely talented and lend so much to this production. There were three stand outs for not only their fancy footwork, but by their shining personalities. Natacha Bachour is a gorgeous creature that stood out in every thing she did. Stefan Raulston is the dance captain and with good reason. His smile, his easy moves and his connection with the audience makes him someone to watch. However, the dancer that caught my attention and made me want to know more about who she is and where she comes from is, Genise Ruidiaz. This young lady hails from Miami, Florida and throughout each and every performance, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by her beauty, her acting and her flawless dancing.



Every performance and every song from ShowStoppers is simply the best. I would like to tell you about all my favorite moments, like the jailhouse scene from Chicago that has world class pizzazz with lovely leading lady, Lindsay Roginski. Then another favorite was Nicole Kaplan Fenton singing alongside David Burnham in Money Money or when she plays the adorable Lola in A Little Brains, A Little Talent. This petite, uber talented lady could easily be mistaken for Kristen Chenoweth except she brings her own perfectly suited personality to life when she performs each of her fantastic numbers. I would also like to tell you how magical and powerful the newest cast member, Rachel Tyler was when she sang, Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl. I thought I had seen a great show, I thought I had witnessed polished talent, I thought the show was as good as a show could be, until Ms. Tyler came out and nailed this classic number from Funny Girl. It doesn’t get better than that. Ms. Streisand should be jealous.

If you have never seen a Broadway musical, or if you have seen them all, you will still want to go see Steve Wynn’s ShowStoppers. It is the epitome of the greatest songs from the all-time best Broadway shows. Even if you don’t think you like Broadway, you will still be pleasantly surprised and leave the theatre feeling something you didn’t expect to feel. There is nothing like live musical theatre and with this show featuring a thirty-four piece orchestra conducted by Maestro Dave Loeb, you will be entertained in a way you’ve never been before.





October 6th, 2015


A ‘proponent of spectacle,’ director Philip William McKinley goes organic in ‘Showstoppers’

Photo By Denise Truscello




February 24th, 2015



Here are links to some articles and reviews of the new show at the Encore Theater in Las Vegas.


December 26th, 2014


‘Spider-Man’ is out, but something is brewing at Wynn/Encore



Spider-Man appears during the musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” at Foxwoods Theater in New York on Thursday, June 2, 2011.

By John Katsilometes (contact

Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 | 3:12 p.m.

Philip William McKinley’s name — all three of them, in fact — certainly surfaces with great frequency at Wynn and Encore Las Vegas.

McKinley has been the director of “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” on Broadway, from 2011 (when he replaced Julie Taymor in the oft-troubled musical) until the production’s closing in January. It was expected and even announced that a version of the stuffed-with-special-effects musical was heading to Las Vegas this year, with the likely venue Encore Theatre.

This feeling was further cemented when McKinley delivered a spectacular production to Wynn Las Vegas in March, an extravaganza starring Hugh Jackman (with a boost from Broadway star Rachel York) and backed by 36 dancers and a 32-piece orchestra. Guests included Quincy Jones and Steven Spielberg. The cost for the show, which was carried out in a “Great Gatsby” 1920s theme, reportedly ballooned to $5 million.

That McKinley and sound man Jonathan Deans, who also worked on “Spider-Man,” was recruited for an event so personally important to Steve Wynn led observers to believe that an announcement of the musical was a mere formality. Not so. Co-producer Michael Cohl said last week that, in place of a resident show in Las Vegas, the musical would tour tour arenas starting in late 2015 or early 2016.

“I think ‘Spider-Man’ is a pop culture show that was meant to be in arenas,” Cohl told the Wall Street Journal in a story published last Friday. (And hey, maybe it’ll play Vegas afterall, in the new MGM Resorts arena between New York-New York and Monte Carlo.)

Spidey’s vault from a planned residency on the Strip to a game of hopscotch across the country seems an unfortunate bit of news for entertainment consumers in Vegas. But also tied to this announcement, at least peripherally, is a show brewing at Wynn and Encore – with McKinley as the director.

Auditions are planned in a couple of weeks for a production listed at Wynn/Encore that would begin rehearsals in October. Along with McKinley, the creative team is headed up by choreographer Marguirite Derricks, who has worked on “Zumanity” at New York-New York. One casting-call notice issued by Louanne Madorma, Wynn’s casting director who built the talent onstage in “Le Reve,” is for four principal vocalists: Two women and two men, all of whom are required to have “legit” Broadway, belt-it-out caliber voices.

Songs required include “All That Jazz” and “Razzle Dazzle” from Chicago, “Adelaide’s Lament” and “Luck Be a Lady” from “Guys and Dolls,” “It’s Today” from “Mame,” “Those Were the Days” from “Damn Yankees” and “Willkommen” from “Cabaret.”

Most telling, the contracts for the upcoming project are said to be open-ended with an “out” clause, which is a good indication that this production is to be … open-ended. Hotel officials and McKinley himself are not talking about what’s happening, but it seems that by fall, more shall be revealed at Wynn/Encore.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.


August 3rd, 2014


Andrea Wynn’s multimillion-dollar birthday party is ‘Gatsby’ themed, but hints to Spidey



By John Katsilometes (contact)

How does the oft-speculated arrival of the musical “Spider-Man” factor into the 50th birthday bash for Andrea Wynn?

(Pause as you mull that question.)

The opulent, invite-only gala for the former Andrea Hissom was held Saturday night at Wynn Las Vegas. The event starred Hugh Jackman and featured more than 70 dancers and musicians.

The director of the customized birthday production — and this was a multimillion-dollar dinner and performance — was Phillip William McKinley, who in 2011 replaced Julie Taymor as director of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”

In November, word spread from Broadway and through Las Vegas that Steve Wynn was in talks to bring the musical to Encore Theater, having rejected the in-development production of “Fun House” he was mulling for the resort.

McKinley and Jackman worked together on “The Boy From Oz,” the musical based on the life of Peter Allen for which Jackman won a Tony Award in 2004. Saturday’s event was a huge bash, with an initial budget of $2 million that was said to expand to $5 million by fruition. Performers rehearsed for 8 to 15 hours a day for two weeks.

The soundman, Jonathan Deans, also was one of the best in the business. Deans has worked on “Spider-Man” and has been nominated for a Tony for Best Sound Design for “Pippin.” Deans has Cirque du Soleil connections, too, for his work on “Mystere,” “Ka,” and “O.”

Jackman was at the center of an hourlong series of production numbers, including “All That Jazz” and “Hot Honey Rag.” Though rumors of Catherine Zeta-Jones singing in the show proved off-target, Broadway star Rachel York (“City of Angels,” “Victor/Victoria,” “Les Miserables”) did turn up to perform for the estimated 300 guests.

A total of 36 dancers and a 32-piece orchestra performed for an audience of VIP that included the likes of Quincy Jones and Steven Spielberg. The dress and decor was a “Great Gatsby”-1920s theme.

Those who worked with and interacted with Jackman said that he was a real pro who used his Aussie charm to great effect.

When Wynn needed the best of the best for this singularly impressive event, Jackman and the savior of “Spider-Man” got the call.



March 4th, 2014


Mark Fisher Passes – a good friend and an amazing colleague

Mark Fisher

Mark Fisher

20th April 1947 – 25th June 2013

Mark was one of the most amazing designers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with on a project.  He and his partner Ray Winkler brought ideas and concepts beyond imagination to a project as well as devilish humor and wit.   Below are links to only two of the projects I had the privilege of working on with Mark and Ray.  Mark will be missed.  We were working on a project together when he passed and it is with great hope we will be able to bring the project to the finish in honor of his great contribution to the world of entertainment.

Rest well my friend!





June 30th, 2013


Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark plays its 1000th performance…and they said it would never last!!!

Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Bono and The Edge were on hand tonight in New York City along with director Philip Wm. McKinley  as Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark celebrated its 1,000th performance. That’s an impressive accomplishment for a production that was roundly panned by critics before it formally opened, and suffered through numerous problems and delays during development.   After McKinley came in as director the production went on to earn the top one week box office record of almost three million dollars.

Spidey continues to be one of the top shows on Broadway.  The show’s success has producers Michael Cohl and Jere Harris now planning to trun it into an arena production that could play in Las Vegas, Hamburg (Germany) and other cities.


May 31st, 2013


Mozart a success!! Back to the lake

I’ve received multiple reports that Mozart is a major success in Tokyo!!! Sold out crowds and standing ovations from audiences that are usually very timid in their reactions.  And now back at the lake for some R&R – heaven!


February 16th, 2013


Mozart L’OPERA ROCK – Tokyo, Japan – Press Conference

A special press conference was held to give the Tokyo journalists a sneak preview of the performance which will open on February 11th at the newest theater in Tokyo – the Orb Theater located above the Shibuya train station.  It was a great reception for the the entire cast.





January 31st, 2013


Mozart L’Opera Rock Press Conference – Tokyo, Ja


An unusual press conference was held today at the Mozart rehearsals.  The press was invited to a sneak preview of the show which will open at the Orb Theater on February 11th.  Here is the link to the youtube video of the press event.



January 30th, 2013


The beautiful garden costumes for the female ensemble

Here is an example of the gorgeous work that is being done.  These are the costumes for the Female Ensemble for the Princess of Orange Garden scene.


January 28th, 2013



Here are some of the incredible set designs by Rumi who gave me a wonderful world in which to play.





January 28th, 2013


Designs for Mozart L’Opera Rock in Tokyo, Japan – OUTRAGEOUS!!!

The following are designs for the costumes for the production of Mozart that I’m presently directing for Nelke Programming in Tokyo, Japan.   Four weeks ago they only existed on paper.   In three days we will be doing a full dress rehearsal with more than 600 costumes.  Wild how quickly things are done here.


January 28th, 2013


Link to the Mozart facebook page

Here’s a link to the Tokyo Facebook page:


January 26th, 2013


Mozart Week #1

Week #1 flew by.  The cast is amazing as well as the staff and the crew.  Because the rehearsals were going so well we decided to have a party at the end of the first week to celebrate .  

January 13th, 2013


Mozart Set

This is a picture of the set that we are rehearsing on for the production of Mozart.   The stage crew built a mock up of the real set in the rehearsal hall.  It’s really quite amazing.  The entire platform rotates 360 degrees by using only three stage hands.  Twelve actors can stand on the platform while it rotates.   It’s a great piece of scenery .  The actual set is being constructed by PRG here in Tokyo.

January 13th, 2013


NEXT UP : MOZART in Tokyo Japan

Looking forward to returning to Tokyo for this incredibly exciting adventure.  The rock opera is Mozart meets Lady Gaga!!!  An amazing design team and an amazing cast. More to follow.

December 15th, 2012


Last Dance A Lab Workshop of the New Disco Musical

Those who missed the days of Studio 54, didn’t miss their Last Dance!! This exciting new show is a tale from the 70s when enough was never enough. A joyful celebration of disco dreams, glitter balls and dangerous delights. It’s a story about a time, not so long ago, when a man wrote songs for the woman he thought he’d never lose… “Disco Forever!”
Under the direction of Philip Wm. McKinley (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, The Boy from Oz), music by Paul Jabara (Enough is Enough, Last Dance, It’s Raining Men…), with book by Shaun McKenna (The Lord of the Rings, The Musical), choreography by Carol Schuberg
(Meet Me in St. Louis) and musical direction by Wendy Cavett (Mamma Mia!). The cast will includes Katrina Lenk (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark), Anastacia McClesky (Priscilla Queen of the Desert), Emmy Award nominee Rob Morrow (“Northern Exposure,” “Numb3rs”), Jack Noseworthy (A Chorus Line), and Jill Shackner (Les Miserables).

Tickets Only $15!  ($10 for members)
5 Performances Only:
Thursday, September 20, Friday, September 21
Saturday, September 22, and Sunday, September 23

August 31st, 2012




Ousted ‘Spider-Man’ director Julie Taymor reaches deal in suit with musical’s producers

Taymor and the men behind “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” have reached an “agreement in principle”


Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ousted-spider-man-director-julie-taymor-reaches-deal-suit-musical-producers-article-1.1148134#ixzz257rUrXyz

Ousted Spidey director Julie Taymor has reached a tentative deal in her legal battle with the producers of the Broadway musical.

Taymor and the men behind “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” have reached an “agreement in principle,” the judge presiding over the bitter court fight said Thursday.

Manhattan Federal Court Judge Katherine Forrest’s order gives the two sides 60 days to reach a final agreement. If they don’t, the case could be revived.

Dale Cendali, a lawyer for producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris confirmed the deal but declined further comment.

Taymor’s attorney Charles Spada did not return a call for comment.

Taymor was booted from the musical in March 2011 after a series of accidents and cost overruns pushed the production to more than $100 million.

Critics also savaged the show, which included music by Bono and The Edge of U2.

Last November Taymor filed a $1 million lawsuit claiming Cohl and Harris cheated her out of royalties and stole portions of her work.

In January, the producers counter sued, portraying Taymor as a money-grubbing diva whose “hallucinogenic” vision of the show near nearly sabotaged it.

She was replaced by Philip McKinley and the revamped show became a bona-fide hit under his direction, bringing in more than $1 million a week.

August 31st, 2012


Last Dance Workshop, Featuring Music of Paul Jabara begins rehearsals

02 Aug 2012

Emmy Award nominee Rob Morrow will take part in the York Theatre Company and Robert D. Wachs’ lab workshop of the new disco musical Last Dance, featuring the music of singer-songwriter Paul Jabara.

As previously announced, workshop performances of the musical, which features a book by Shaun McKenna (Lord of the Rings The Musical), will be offered Sept. 20-23 in NYC.

Helmed by Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark director and creative consultant Philip Wm. McKinleyLast Dance, according to producers, ”is a tale from the ’70s when enough was never enough. A joyful celebration of disco dreams, glitter balls and dangerous delights. It’s a story about a time, not so long ago, when a man wrote songs for the woman he thought he’d never lose… ‘Disco Forever!’”

Morrow, a founding member of the theatrical troupe Naked Angels, is best known for his work on the television series “Northern Exposure,” for which he received three Golden Globes and two Emmy Award nominations. His television credits include “Numb3rs,” “The Whole Truth,” “Entourage,” “CSI: NY” and “The Day Lincoln Was Shot,” among others. He has appeared on stage in The Boys of Winter and the West End production of Birdy.

Other members of the creative team include choreographer Carol Schuberg (Meet Me in St. Louis) and musical director Wendy Cavett (Mamma Mia!).

Last Dance will be offered Sept. 20-21 at 8 PM, Sept. 22 at 6 PM and 10 PM and Sept. 23 at 3 PM at The York Theatre at Saint Peter’s (East 54th Street). For more information and tickets, call (212) 935-5820 or visit YorkTheatre.org.

August 31st, 2012