Cruise Ship Entertainment Company STILETTO Celebrates 20th Anniversary

By: May. 01, 2015

STILETTO Entertainment celebrates its 20th anniversary of providing first-class entertainment on cruise ships. From Could It Be Magic on Holland America Line's Statendam to the recent openings of award-winning Theatre At Sea shows, STILETTO has produced over 100 shows from concept to curtain-up for cruise ship guests. From intimate song and dance revues to multi-media cirque-style spectacles at sea, STILETTO has done it all!

"It started when we were given the opportunity to produce shows for just one ship," remembers Douglas Senecal, General Manager and a former cruise ship performer himself. "After successfully creating shows for this first ship, we were asked to continue to produce shows, as well as audition and rehearse the casts, for more and more vessels, until eventually we managed 15 ships each with casts of 7 to 14 singers and dancers."

STILETTO also produced the shows on world cruise voyages for Holland America Line's Prinsendam, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, as well as Cunard's legendary HMS Queen Elizabeth II and the Seabourn Quest, and produced the first original book musical performed on a cruise ship, the award winning Barry Manilow's Copacabana. Artistic Director John Charron, whose next project is the Broadway revival of Can Can, laughingly quips, "On any night, one of our shows is being performed on a ship somewhere in the world!"

"Our amazing creative staff of Emmy, Tony and Oscar nominees or recipients has created some of the best entertainment on the high seas," says Garry Kief, President and CEO of STILETTO Entertainment. "And," adds Senecal, "with music produced by Ron Walters Jr., who is also the Musical Director for Barry Manilow's concert tours, the shows hit a sweet spot for the eclectic range of guests on any given ship. We may open with a current hit from Coldplay or a hard-driving song from Queen, but we'll follow it with a great standard. Everyone gets a taste of something they like, but the music still supports the theme or storyline of the show."

STILETTO specifically tailors shows for each ship and uses multiple languages to appeal to the many international guests that sail each year. "As a matter of fact," says Jubel Obien, Vocal Arranger and herself a musical theater director, "we created one set of shows that featured seven different languages. On top of the English lyrics, the singers had to learn French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, and even Swahili!"

Traveling constantly to audition singers and dancers around the world, casting directors James Nadeau, who performed at sea prior to joining STILETTO, and Jodie Dorner, who rehearsed shows on land and sea, assemble casts to embark on a journey that, for some, changes their lives. "We've seen families formed in front of our eyes," says Dorner. "As cast members go out to sea to perform in our shows, they meet officers and fellow crew members and return for several more contracts before settling down to raise the next generation of singers and dancers." "Our Facebook wall is filled with photos of what we lovingly call our little sea urchins," adds Nadeau.

"It seems like yesterday," says Rob Kief, Executive Vice President and a ten year veteran of cast changes at sea, "that I was taking our first cast to the ship that would be their home for the next six months. Some of those wonderful kids have stayed in touch with us ever since."

Many of the over 5,000 performers who have gone through the STILETTO rehearsal studios have gone on to earn some very impressive credits. "My professional career started in the quick-paced and intense rehearsal process of STILETTO Entertainment," says Richard Jarrett (National Tours of Legally Blonde and Rock of Ages). "The teachers, choreographers, and music directors always gave their all to the casts." Recalls Adam Roberts (Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark and Pippin on Broadway), "I've made uncountable memories and met some of my best friends to date working for STILETTO." Brandt Martinez (Disney's Aladdin on Broadway) says, "STILETTO was my first job, a wonderful experience [that] shaped me into what I am today." While Brooke Morrison (National Tours of A Chorus Line and Queen's We Will Rock You) says, "[I am] proud to say I've worked for STILETTO!" And Natalie Gallo (Mamma Mia on Broadway and Broadway Tour of Jersey Boys) says, "My best memories and closest friends come from my time with STILETTO Entertainment."

Of course, there are some who have moved away from performing. "I will never forgot my time with STILETTO," says Danny Hochman. "Since cruising I have relocated to Washington DC to begin a career with the United States Secret Service!" Or JR White, Assistant General Manager, who says, "I was in the first cast of Could It Be Magic, Remote Control, and On Broadway, and could still perform them today...the only difference is the velocity at which my leg comes down!"

In addition to cruise ship production shows and cast management, more than 100 live concerts and special events are produced and presented by STILETTO each year. From major theatrical stage presentations to world tours and festivals...from the management of internationally renowned artists to the production of charity events and Emmy award-winning television specials...STILETTO Entertainment is expert in taking a show from concept to stage.

Watch STILETTO's demo reel below!


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