Sure, you’ve been to a concert (maybe several) at WinStar World Casino and Resort’s Global Event Center, Palladium or Colosseum, but have you ever wondered about the people who make our amazing shows come to life?
Stephanie Callaway is one of those people. One among many who dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s before every single concert, comedy show or evening of entertainment at WinStar. Originally from Ada, Stephanie graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor of Science in 2005. She’s been a part of the WinStar team since 2009, and since 2010, has had a hand in most of the entertainment you’ve seen here at WinStar. Today, she’s a Texas resident with a lively 8-year-old mini dachshund named Ripley.
What’s your role here at WinStar World Casino and Resort?
Stephanie: “I am the Entertainment Manager at WinStar World Casino and Resort. I book, advertise and promote our national acts here in the Global Event Center. I also oversee the lounge entertainment, the Colosseum at WinStar (PBR and outdoor concerts) and entertainment for Weekends After Dark. If it touches entertainment, I’ve got my hands in it!”
How did you get into doing what you do? Was it something you always wanted to do or was it something that found you?
Stephanie: “I came to WinStar with a background in marketing, advertising and technical writing. When it was suggested I apply for the position, I wasn’t sure how good of a fit it would be considering I had never booked a band in my life. Turns out, it’s a perfect fit! In my day-to-day, I deal with a lot of contracts, advertising and marketing – there’s a lot of back-end work to bringing in an act. My experience ended up meshing perfectly with the position, and along with my passion for music, I feel like I really found my home. It’s been six years, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
With so much experience in the Global Event Center, you must have some great stories. Any favorites you want to share?
Stephanie: “We hosted the wonderful, and extremely entertaining Rod Stewart back in 2012. Those who have been lucky enough to see him live before know that during “Hot Legs” he kicks around 50 soccer balls into the audience, and well, those soccer balls are provided by the venue (and we had two shows!). It’s quite a long story, but to keep it short, after frantically searching for 100 soccer balls, we ended up partnering with our very good friends at FC Dallas, who provided 100 brand-new match balls. I drove down like a Mad Hatter to pick them up and our stagehands spent the better part of the night blowing them up with hand pumps. It had to be quite the sight to see everyone lined up backstage pumping up soccer balls. It was a phenomenal show and definitely a memorable couple of nights.”
Who’s your all-time favorite band or singer?
Stephanie: I get asked this question a lot, and it’s tough to narrow down. I can appreciate music from almost every genre, but if I had to choose one I would say 80s synth pop is my favorite. I own everything that Depeche Mode has ever put out!
Which entertainer(s) is/are your favorite to work with?
Stephanie: “I’ve met extremely kind and generous people in every genre. My favorites are the folks who come back and see us every year, though – we know their faces, about their families and everyone hugs when they get to the venue – those are the best days!”
If you could book one act that hasn’t been to WinStar yet, who would it be and why?
Stephanie: “Elton John! He’s a masterful entertainer and a true performer. It would be honor to get to work with him. I have a list of about 50 people that we’re slowly ticking off our wish list, so you never know!”
Keep your fingers crossed that Steph completes that wish list (we’d like to see the full thing, by the way)!
You always hear stories of crazy things bands request of performance venues. What’s your favorite performer request of all time?
Stephanie: “People really do request crazy things, but after a while you stop thinking they’re so crazy; it’s just our normal! We did have someone request a framed 22 x 28 promo poster from ‘Young Frankenstein,’ which was odd.”
Fun fact: Artists include something called a “rider” with their performance contract. Sometimes crazy requests are included on a band’s rider to see how well the venue pays attention to detail. If the venue leaves out your “Young Frankenstein” poster, how can you expect them to keep your crew safe? Cool trick, huh?
From start to finish, what does a typical concert day look like at the Global Event Center?
Stephanie: “A typical event day is pretty long. We come in around 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m., when the band arrives, and don’t leave until the band leaves around 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. The day is mostly filled with prepping the room, getting the stage set, sound check and of course the fun part – the show!”
What is your favorite part of what you do and why?
Stephanie: “My favorite part of what I do is watching the lights go off on the downbeat. There’s no better or more satisfactory feeling than seeing the crowd rise up and cheer for the entertainer they came to watch. It’s great to see all the hard work you’ve put into an event pay off by making memories for other people. The fact that people come here to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or just seeing their favorite artist here isn’t lost on those of us working backstage – we truly love seeing people rock out and enjoy themselves.”
Is there a concert or performer that sticks out in your mind as the most memorable?
Stephanie: “I’ve worked with several legends here, hard to say any are more memorable than the others. Stevie Nicks gave me a hug, though – that was pretty cool.”
A hug from the one-and-only Stevie Nicks? Jealous!
What’s the one thing about a concert that guests to Global Event Center would be most surprised to know?
Stephanie: “I would say most people are surprised to know that we have most of these acts on the calendar and are actively working on them six to nine months before the public knows they are scheduled to perform here. There are a lot of moving parts to getting a show on the calendar and coordinated up to the minute they step on stage.”
In your opinion, what makes WinStar’s Global Event Center stand out as a performance venue?
Stephanie: “I think our selection of artists makes us stand out. We strive to offer something for everyone and try to hit on different genres as much as we can.”
To see Stephanie’s work in action, keep an eye on our entertainment calendars! There’s always something exciting coming up at one of our many performance venues!