Any one of the 21,000-plus VIPs and attendees at the Unite Forever Gala would have agreed with performer Blake Shelton’s characterization of the evening as “epic.” And for epic shows like the 90th Anniversary celebration of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, the go-to production company remains Corporate Magic.
The United Way engaged Dallas-based Corporate Magic, in partnership with Fay+Sawers Productions, to orchestrate a memorable birthday bash that would pay proper tribute to the myriad contributions the charity has made to the local area since its founding in 1925. One local critic has already declared it “the event of the year” in North Texas.
Fittingly staged at the massive AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Corporate Magic creatively configured the giant stage and VIP seating area to cut the field in half and give the event a more intimate feel. More than 1,400 VIPs walked the red carpet and enjoyed a seated dinner on the playing surface before roughly 20,000 concertgoers poured in for the main event. Notable celebrities ranged from Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to Ross Perot, Gene and Jerry Jones to Laura Bush and her twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna.
United Way CEO Jennifer Sampson spoke about the extraordinary impact her organization has had on Dallas over the previous decades. Several Dallas Cowboys legends who had appeared in United Way commercials over the years – including Roger Staubach, Emmitt Smith, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Tony Dorsett and gala co-chair Troy Aikman – joined Sampson on stage.
Then the crowd was treated to not just one, but two world-class artists – Usher and Blake Shelton – who each played a full set packed with their greatest hits before coming together for a joint encore. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders joined the stars on-stage to add a little Dallas-style eye candy.
Corporate Magic enlisted GoVision L.P. to supply two jumbo LED screens for the side of the stage along with another massive upstage lightweight carbon fiber screen for visual backdrops. The upstage screen was angled in the middle and weighed in at less than 2,000 lbs. No other screen in the business could be that large and still meet the limited rigging allowance due to its placement below the famed giant screen (aka “Jerrytron”) hanging from the stadium’s ceiling. This enabled the VIP audience seated beneath the Jerrytron to have an optimal view of the performers.
Following the concert, the VIPs were invited to an exclusive after-party with more delicious food, a photo booth and dance music.
“It’s an honor to have so much confidence placed in us to take on a special event of this magnitude,” said Jim Kirk, president and chief creative officer of Corporate Magic. “The United Way is an extraordinarily important organization, and they are eminently worthy of a five-star celebration. We didn’t exactly have to twist arms to get the who’s who of DFW and the entertainment world to lend their support to this event and this important cause.”
To bring together the hottest in R&B and country, Corporate Magic’s Creative Director
Stephen Dahlem brought in lighting/show designer Eric Wade of FOHShow to steer the production design for this special collaboration. Eric offered working knowledge of both artists and a good feel for what was needed on the collaborations. IMAG and show content were shown on a massive upstage GoVision LED screen and AT&T stadium’s renowned enormous LED screen. Additionally, VER supplied the substantial gear on lighting grids placed to fill the space between on-stage and off-stage LED screens. Intense and bright were the words of the night.