Ohio native Phil Reno (b. Tiffin, Ohio, 1963) is a musician, musical director, and conductor best known for his work in Broadway’s ever-popular The Producers (2001–2007), and most recently in the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises (2010).
Yet Reno did not always have Broadway aspirations. Growing up as a pianist and music lover, he attended The College Conservatory of the University of Cincinnati as a music education major, planning to become a high school choir or band director. The University’s strong musical theater program, however, lured him in, and eventually gave him his first major conducting opportunity. Prophetically, one of his earliest professional jobs was conducting an Ohio summer-stock tour of Promises, Promises during his first summer after graduation. Little did he know that he would find himself on Broadway conducting that same show years later. In fact, it was there that he met current Promises director Rob Ashford, who was one of the dancers in the Ohio production. According to Reno, “It just shows what a small world our business can be.”
Phil Reno began his Off-Broadway career with A Little Night Music (1985) and The Baker’s Wife (1986), for both of which he served as musical director. In 1998, he performed as a musician in the award-winning Off-Broadway musical, A New Brain.
It was not until 2001 that Reno made his Broadway debut as Associate Conductor and keyboardist in the renowned Broadway hit, The Producers. He remained with the twelve-time Tony Award®-winning show for a total of 1,383 performances. Of his time with the celebrated show Reno says: “It was such an exciting ride for all of us … and so wonderful.” It was with this production that he gained the experience necessary to become a Broadway musical director.
After The Producers, in 2006, Phil Reno became musical director, vocal music arranger, and conductor for Broadway’s The Drowsy Chaperone, and maintained this position for the U.S. tour of the five-time Tony Award®-winning musical. Reno is currently musical director and conductor of the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises, leading an orchestra of 18 members and a singing cast including Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth in the well-known Hal David-Burt Bacharach score.
Phil Reno has also participated in productions of Thou Shalt Not, Cats, and Dame Edna: The Royal Tour. Off stage, he has contributed orchestrations for the television show “Broadway Under the Stars” (CBS, 2002–2006), the film adaptation of The Producers (2005), and Gary Marshall and Paul Williams’s “Happy Days.” He enjoys sharing his talent and experience by teaching master classes at Ohio Northern University to musical theatre and classical music students.
Although he performs each night in front of theater critics, Broadway fanatics, and sold-out crowds, Reno finds his toughest critic to be his mother: “When my mom’s there, I tell the orchestra, ‘OK, Carol Reno is here – Mom’s listening! Play well!’ I try to think in my mind that somebody’s mother is in the audience every night and we should really do our best every night.”