PHILIP WM. MCKINLEY has directed record-breaking productions from Broadway to Salzburg to Tokyo. His production of SPIDERMAN: TURN OFF THE DARK with music by Bono and The Edge is one of the top twenty all-time box office grossing productions in Broadway history. After his taking over the reins, the production earned the top box office record, taking in nearly $3 million dollars in one week.
In New York City, McKinley also directed the five-time Tony nominated Broadway musical THE BOY FROM OZ starring Hugh Jackman, the revival of THE MOST HAPPY FELLA starring Paul Sorvino at the New York City Opera, the Drama Desk-nominated comedy THWAK, and the cult Off-Broadway musical ZOMBIE PROM.
McKinley most recently directed the critical and box office success Elf the Musical at the Dominion Theater in London. Returning to the West End for its second year, the musical is playing to sold out houses and is fast becoming a traditional London holiday spectacular.
At the Salzburg Music Festival, McKinley directed WEST SIDE STORY starring Cecilia Bartoli with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. The opening night of WEST SIDE STORY received a standing ovation, which is unheard of for the Salzburg Music Festival. McKinley holds the distinction of being asked to be the director of the first musical to be presented by the festival in its almost 100-year history.
In 2014, McKinley directed a private event for Steve Wynn. This brought McKinley back together with Hugh Jackman. The event garnered such a positive response, Mr. Wynn invited McKinley to direct a second project, the multimillion-dollar production STEVE WYNN’S SHOWSTOPPERS which opened at the Encore Theater in December 2014 to fantastic reviews. STEVE WYNN’S SHOWSTOPPERS was awarded Best New Show 2014 and Best Musical 2015 in Las Vegas. CNN stated it was “one of the best Musical Show Openings in Vegas history.”
McKinley re-imagined and directed the aquatic spectacular LE REVE-THE DREAM at the Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas. LE REVE was renowned for its dramatic theater-in-the-round setting with high divers and acrobats flying in and out of the 1 million-gallon 27-feet-deep pool. McKinley’s edition featured new costumes by Suzy Benzinger, music composed by Benoit Jutras, choreography by Marguerite Derricks and lighting design by Jules Fischer and Peggy Eisenhauer. The show was awarded the title “Best Show in Las Vegas.”
His more recent projects include a production of THAT WOMAN – WALLIS SIMPSON, DUCHESS OF WINDSOR which was recognized as the “Pick of the Fringe” top five productions for the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
He also directed A GREEN RIVER, a powerful play about war, post-traumatic stress, and the effect it has on a young man’s life. The play is being developed to feature a cast of combat veterans. Following the performance, the cast of veterans will discuss in an audience talk-back format their personal combat experiences and their struggle to live with PTSD.
His past projects include MOZART L’OPERA ROCK in Tokyo, which broke Tokyo’s theatrical box office records with standing room only tickets sold for the production.
McKinley directed BEN HUR LIVE, an operatic sports spectacular which had its world premiere in September 2009 at the 02 Dome in London and was also performed in Rome in the summer of 2011. It was the largest live production touring Europe with a company of more than 350 performers and one hundred animal performers.
McKinley devised and directed Kenneth Feld’s European style one ring BARNUM’S KALEIDOSCAPE and conceived, directed, and staged the 128th, 129th, 130th, 131st, 132nd, 133rd and 135th editions of RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY’S THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH. He directed Feld’s GOLD UNIT EU, a one ring circus which opened in Rome. McKinley directed and conceived with Kenneth and Nicole Feld BOOM-A-RING, his tenth Ringling production, distinguishing him as the individual who has directed more editions of RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM AND BAILEY than any other living person.
McKinley co-conceived “VOYAGE DE LA VIE” with Mark Fisher of Stufish, a multi-million-dollar theatrical rock circus spectacular which opened in 2010 at Resort’s World Sentosa in Singapore. McKinley’s direction and staging of the production was acknowledged by Time Out Magazine, which named the show the “Most Outstanding Production” of the season.
He was nominated for a Barrymore Award as Best Director of the new musical NERDS://A MUSICAL SOFTWARE SATIRE, which played at the Philadelphia Theater Company and garnered seven Barrymore Awards including Best Score and Best Book for a musical.
McKinley has worked with award winning theater, film, and TV notables such as Hugh Jackman, Stephanie J. Block, Betty Buckley, Reeve Carney, Phyllis Diller, Val Kilmer, Katrina Lenk, and Patrick Page, as well as opera divas Beverly Sills and Cecilia Bartoli.
He directed the first televised and one of the most successful Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS events featuring 342 Broadway performers including Bea Arthur, Petula Clark, Judy Kaye, Bebe Neuwirth, Joe Mantello, Andrea McArdle, K.T. Oslin, Chita Rivera, Gwen Verdon, B.D. Wong, and Rachel Welch.
Projects in development include THE BIBLE: IN THE BEGINNING, a musical spectacular version of the Old Testament with Matt Rollings and Ryan Beveridge composing music, lyrics by Maribeth Derry and a book by Shaun McKenna.
McKinley is also developing a new biographical musical about the life of Ella Fitzgerald titled ELLA as well as the verbal-sparing dramedy THE GUEST with New York Times Best Selling Author Gregg Hurwitz. He is developing and directing the Japanese-language live-stage musical THE THREE MUSKETEERS which will have its premiere in Tokyo September 2024.
After more than two decades away from acting, he returned to his performing roots as one of the leading characters in the pilot of the TV show titled COMPLETE BULL. Playing the role of an Iowa farmer, McKinley acquired the skill of artificially inseminating cattle. McKinley says: “It’s always good to have a skill to fall back on for the future.”