Below is a guest post by my friend Scotty Wiese. On April 9th, Scotty performed the first ever magic show at Red Rocks, "Magic on the Rocks." This is the story of how it happened:
1. This was a gargantuan show. I'm sure everyone is wondering how you made this happen:
This was definitely the biggest and most intimidating project I’ve taken on personally or professionally. It was years in the making. Magic on the Rocks started with a cold email in 2019 to the event/talent booking team at Red Rocks. Thankfully, the main booker had seen me perform before, so she was inclined to respond and help with this huge idea. After researching and ultimately discovering there had never been a magic show at Red Rocks Amphitheater, I pitched the idea of “Magic on the Rocks,” and they loved it. I am almost positive this show would not have happened without the event planner seeing me perform before. At least, it would've been much more difficult to get the ball rolling.
Looking back on the past four years of performing professionally, there have been times like this where the stars aligned and it seemed lucky, but I have always come back to this quote from Seneca: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” If I hadn’t been performing 5-6 shows a week in Denver, the Red Rocks event planner would not have seen my magic and this show probably would still be a pipe dream. The biggest lesson I learned is to get out there, pursue big ideas, and be prepared to execute them when opportunity arises.
2. You went from performing for dozens or hundreds of people to a stadium that
seats nine thousand. What did you have to consider when adapting the show?
One of the lessons I learned from watching Ed Sheeran’s 2017 documentary was to not change the style of your performance, character, or show even if the venue or type of audience changes. Ed went from performing at dive bars to headlining Wembley stadium in a span of 2 years, but he kept his acoustical/smaller show and magnified it in other ways. For Red Rocks, I did not want to change my show to a massive illusion show. I did not want to do a different magic style than my own. Instead, we worked with the camera crew to try to make a 9,000 person venue feel intimate. For example, instead of having the cameras follow me, I had technicians focus on each spectator’s reaction on the big screen, so no matter where someone was sitting, they felt the magic and connected to the reaction they saw from the participant on stage. Additionally, for every routine, I tried to tell a story or create a premise that everyone could relate to and remember, even if they did not come on stage.
3. What is one thing you got right?
Throughout the show, I tied in elements of Red Rocks, its history, and my history. Everyone I talked to about the show brought up the routines about Red Rocks and the stories I weaved to connect Red Rocks to myself and the audience. It wasn’t a pre-recorded show people were watching; they knew it was a once in a lifetime event because the routines and stories were crafted for this one performance and unique venue. People love to feel like they are part of something unique that will never happen again. Crafting this show that way worked tremendously.
Lastly, I was initially worried that I might need more flashy/large illusions for a venue of this size. However, I think staying in my natural character and style helped with my connection to the crowd. Audiences can tell when a performer is being fake or not themselves, so staying true to what got me to Red Rocks was essential.
4. What is one thing you got wrong?
I definitely underestimated the production of a show of this size. We had roughly 60 people working directly for me, from sound to lighting to ushers to stagehands. It would have been helpful to meet up with their team beforehand to go over angles, lighting, and other logistics. However, with a venue and team of that size, it was unrealistic, as they have events basically every day. Going forward, I will hire my own video/lighting/stage director to work directly with the crew. Similar to an assistant film director who could show up day of and know everything about the show/who to talk to, so I would not have to worry about every little detail personally.
5. What was going through your mind when you were on stage?
The moment I walked out on stage was hard to describe. Almost breathtaking. Performing at Red Rocks has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, so I truly tried to be present and enjoy every second on stage. Unfortunately, some of the audio/background music behind the scenes broke during the show, so I had to finish the show without music and cut an entire routine in real time, while still talking to the audience.
A similar audio error happened to me at a show in 2019, so thankfully I just trusted my instincts and continued with my set. As I mentioned before, preparation is key. If I didn’t have all the hours and experience of improvising on stage, I probably would have panicked. Instead, I took advantage of not having background music to create a more intimate and acoustic feeling, and I think the audience loved it. As soon as my last routine finished and the audience stood up, I finally took a breath and soaked it all in.
7. Is there anything else you want to share?
I honestly never thought this show would happen. In lots of people’s minds, myself included at points, it was a pipe dream. But I trusted my gut and followed one of the principles I learned in high school: set 10x goals and follow that up with 10x actions. One of my basketball coaches told me this and I try to use that motto for my personal and professional goals. The idea behind this concept is to set goals that are ten times higher than most people think are possible (like performing the 1st magic show at Red Rocks). But you can’t stop there. You must follow up that mentality with actionable and trackable steps that are ten times higher than most people would conceive. For this show, I set ticket sale goals that were ten times higher than my previous shows and followed that up with even more audacious action steps that ultimately led to selling the amount of tickets we wanted.
If a goal or project in your life scares you, ask yourself, “What steps can I take to achieve this?” Then go ten times further than you think is necessary or even possible. If you think 50 emails will get you the promotion, send 500 emails. Going above and beyond in your mentality and effort will set you apart. As the late great Kobe Bryant said, “That is how history is made.”