By Debbie HallWhat started as Steve Wynn’s gift to his wife, Andrea for her birthday party developed into “ShowStoppers,” performed in the intimate Encore Theater, a collection of Broadway show tunes that transcend time and generations. With over 66 singers, dancers and a full orchestra with scenery and costumes, an equally talented group of people came together behind the scenes create the larger than life production. Marguerite Derricks, its choreographer, is one of dance’s most recognized and respected working choreographers today.
Derricks is the first and only choreographer to have received three consecutive Emmy Awards for outstanding choreography (“3rd Rock from the Sun,” “Fame L.A.” and the Goodwill Games closing ceremony) and is also the recipient of five MTV Movie Awards for Best Dance Sequence and three American Choreography Awards. She has choreographed over 50 feature films, television shows and commercials including the Austin Powers trilogy, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “Fame,” “Spider-Man 3,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “American Wedding,” “Donnie Darko,” “Behind the Candelabra,” “Dancing With the Stars,” “That 70’s Show,” The Academy Awards, The Emmy Awards and The Gap’s Go Go advertising campaign. Broadway credits include “A Class Act,” “Wonderland” and “Heathers The Musical.”
She explained, “My mother put me in ballet classes when I was a girl. I loved to dance. More than that, I loved telling all the dancers what to do and how to do it. I would just start to move them around. That was it; it’s all I ever wanted to do.”
As for choreographers, Agnes De Mille is her inspiration. “When I first moved to New York to find work as a dancer, I saw a biography about her, and it changed my life. Her work was inventive and humorous. She was a real storyteller,” Derricks said. “I was inspired personally by Debbie Allen. She became my mentor after she hired me for my first job as a dancer on the television show “Fame”. She choreographed and starred on the show and eventually ended up directing the entire show. She was a strong, focused and confident woman and never took ‘no’ for an answer.
“Like Debbie, I like to lead by example. I take every job I do very seriously. I like to prepare the girls I mentor by including them in the whole process. I even bring them when I am interviewing for a job. I make sure they get to see the business of dance.”
Since “ShowStoppers” celebrates Broadway musicals from all eras, Derricks said she is choreographing shows from the 1940s and 1950s to current shows. “In ‘ShowStoppers,’ we celebrate live entertainment and true talent. From the 31-piece onstage orchestra to the six incredible vocalists and our brilliant cast of dancers, everything about the production is a show-stopper. We put our modern twist on each of the numbers represented in the show.”
While Derricks’ hard work has led to a very successful career, she admitted, “As a woman in this business, I have been very fortunate to work as much and as long as I have. When I first started out, very often I was the only woman in the room. I needed to go in focused and confident. Things have changed, and now you certainly see more women in all areas of production. But it’s still important to go in focused and confident.”
Performances run Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and 10 p.m. The show is dark on Sunday and Monday. For tickets or more information, visit wynnlasvegas.com/Entertainment/ShowStoppers.