The National Association of Catering Executives (NACE), Greater Washington DC Chapter has awarded the ‘Best Corporate Event of the Year’ Award to Steve Phillips and Casino Parties by Show Biz Productions at their annual awards gala. The event, which the award was for, took place on Thursday, January 4, 2018, at the MGM National Harbor, in National Harbor, Maryland. The event was for the current Stanley Cup Champions, The Washington Capitals, which was their 7th annual Casino Night.
This year, the Washington Capitals Casino Night raised nearly $285,000 for charity at their 6th Capitals Casino Night, presented by the Leonsis Foundation, on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, at the Sheraton, Pentagon City, in Arlington, Virginia. Casino Night featured the entire team along with coaches and alumni participating in casino games with fans. This gave the fans a great opportunity to play the games along with their favorite hockey players. Prizes included jerseys, sticks and pucks, autographed by players, as well as tickets for upcoming games. They also had opportunities to win the chance to go bowling, ride segways and play in a special poker tournament with some of the Capitals.
The call came in at 10:07 AM. It was from a very nervous lady for a job I had bid on. The company she had chosen to do her event, had a trailer issue and would not be able to make it. The event was from 12 to 4 AM and was an hour travel could I help her? I told her I would do what was possible . At which point I began to perform the impossible. My first call was to my driver who fortunately had the truck loaded with equipment and was available. He was not far from the event site, as well. Next, I had to get staffing and that was not easy chore in lieu of the fact it was in the middle of the afternoon and I was an hour away from show time. I found my best staff available , which included retirees and got in touch with my dice dealer who was at a car dealer waiting for his vehicle. I said no problem I will pick you up on the way. Luckily I had extra shirts; on my closet, in variety of sizes, because he was not in uniform. Then, made another stop for a carless dealer on the way and we were ready to go at noon with a ten table gig. All done in less than to hours without a speeding ticket. The client said I was sent from the lord to save her job. As, a side bar, in our 37 years, we have never missed a job, come snow, sleet, accident, whatever, we always come through! so, make sure to call Showbiz Productions, to save the day !
On May 7 of this year we produced what we call our Race to Finish program for a private school fundraiser . The program production included six horses we put on Dollies and the guest roll oversized dice, to propel the horses to the finish line. It is a great audience participation program, as we utilize the guest as jockeys. It is usually run in hotel ballrooms or on some kind of hard surfaced area. A week before the event we were told the event had been moved to a grassy area outside. This created a problem , because my horses are not turf runners and need a hard surface. Our solution was to build a track; a hard surface for them to run on. What we did was we built a 60' X 10' track with an interlocking system, so that it would be stable; similar to a linear dance floor. This solution gives me a lot of options with this program, because we can now run on the grass, as well as, on the beach and both are popular party locations in Florida. The program was well received at the outdoor venue that included tenting with food stations, a stage with a band and a large screen for viewing the Kentucky Derby.
On December 6th, we produced an 150 Croupier event for ExxonMobil. We were involved in all aspects of the production. These aspects included Dueling Pianos and coordination of photo booths. Setting up the Dueling Piano group was a little tricky, because the client wanted them to perform in the round. The room dimensions had to be carefully calculated since the Columbia Ballroom had a low ceiling and a chandelier. Eventually, it was determined we could only use a stage with a sixteen inch riser (height of stage). This turned out to be sufficient enough for everyone in the ballroom to watch the performance of the Dueling Pianos.
The total event included an exorbitant casino section and Dueling Pianos which resulted in an $80,000 invoice. I was also responsible for coordinating the placement of the props and decor as well as the photo booths; this involved working with the catering department and hotel security staff to coordinate deliveries in a relatively small loading dock with neighborhood time restrictions.
This event was a division of the Ford Motor Company. It was held at Maryland Live Casino, a new casino in Maryland, that just opened within the last year, offering casino gaming. This event is an example that casino entertainment companies can partner with real casinos, to produce events.
The client chose to do this event in a real casino, because, they were having a dinner in one of the restaurants at the casino and since many of their guests were deemed unfamiliar with gaming, they sought out our services to provide an instructional casino, as well as a fun evening of entertainment to include prizes for their guests. The dealers were instructed to give on inordinate amount of time, on gaming explanation, gaming strategy, as well as gaming etiquette. My most talented, friendly and professional staff were hand selected for this event. Setting up this event, involved a unique challenge of working in a real casino, that was really not set up to do fun nights or other entertainment programs. We had to walk our equipment through rows of slot machines while people were playing them. This had to be done, very carefully, with staff members on each side of the crew ensuring proper safety for all concerned.
This event is an example of a small budget that can equal big entertainment.
This event was for a corporate giant with over 1,000 guests in attendance! This was their Holiday Party, taking place at the Marriot Wardman Park in Washington, DC on Saturday, December 7th, 2013. The event included coordinating the following elements:
The Casino - which had 35 Blackjacks, 3 Roulette Tables, 3 Craps Tables, 6 Poker Tables with 50 Dealers and 2 Pit Bosses. This event also involved coordination with the DC Lottery Board as well as the corporate client having to "adopt" a charity, so that the event could be presented as a legal, charitable event, as the District of Columbi's laws are written that there are to be no corporate or social events involving casino equipment, unless it is registered with the Lottery Board, under their Charitable Games Division, as a charitable fundraising event. On behalf of the corporate client, we solicited the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society to be the beneficiary of a donation, in order to receive the license under their name.
Disc Jockey - was incorporated into the event, who entertained the main ballroom, which is where their dinner was served. This involved communication with the DJ, as well as the committee members and hotel staffing, regarding staging, lighting and music selection. The DJ also included an assistant and a minimal lighting package.
Professional Actor - costumed two crier, with a bell, to help move the crowd, because the event was held in 5 different areas on 2 levels of the hotel and this also included the announcing of show times, for the various entertainers.
Talent Show - this was run by the employees of the corporation, however it took much time coordinating their rehearsal days/times with our pianist, who we utilized in a dueling piano show at the event. During the Talent Show, our professional actor was the Host/Emcee who introduced the various acts and ran the show.
Dueling Piano Show - 2 professional pianists, with baby grand shells, provided 2 hours of a dueling piano show. This was a Vegas-style show, which was very well received by the guests.
Photography - which included the following: 1 Roving Photographer, to capture candid shots throughout the event. 2 Green Screen Stations, where guest could pose with various backgrounds and the pictures were customized with the event date and location and given to the guests at the event. 2 Photo Booths, where guests could take pictures together, at the leisure and received those photos as well.
There was also a coordination fee added, as it was the responsibility of our company to ensure the vent ran smoothly and that everything happened as planned. This included several pre-function site meetings, floor plans, scheduling with the loading dock for the various trucks and times, etc...
The event was hugely successful and the 3rd year that we had provided this client with this caliber of event.
Saundra Phillips, my mother, 92 years of age, has been employed by showbiz productions since September 1979 when I purchased the company with a one thousand dollar loan from her. I think she wanted to keep an eye on her investment. She has proven to be my most capable, competent, and dependable black jack dealer. I taught her how to deal and she does it very well ; she lays out the cards nicely, works with two hands like I taught her and doesn’t even count on her fingers. She also is a great entertainer on the game, teaching novice players how to play and consoling those when she pulls a five card 21. Growing up in the entertainment business as a stage singer, mistress of ceremonies, and comedian, she is a natural entertainer. Saundra is my eyes and ears when I am not at an event. The only concession that we make for her is when the tables are at a standup level, my crew brings a stool for her. But she told me to say, if none is available she can tough it out! Often times I will give her a break during the evening and whisper to the guests she is 92. As most gasp with disbelief, many of the women want to be just like her. They ask what she does and I lie and say she drinks whiskey right from the bottle, smokes cigars and cooks everything in chicken fat. For these above reasons, it is my pleasure to nominate Saundra Phillips as Croupier of the Year.