Most people know the Stanley Hotel for its ties to The Shining, its history of grandeur and its amazing location in Estes Valley. You might not know, however, that one of the world’s best magicians performs there every weekend, leaving guests in awe. After eight years of performing in various rooms of the hotel, Aiden Sinclair’s The Underground opened to the public on July 2 in its own underground speakeasy lounge with a performance that forced guests to question reality and step into the unknown.
Sinclair was introduced to the world of magic in unconventional ways. As a young man, he got involved in illegal activities, including running underground poker rooms, and spent 15 years running from the law. In 2005 he turned himself in to federal authorities and served time in prison. After being released, he decided he didn’t want to be another statistic. “I learned slight-of-hand while doing that and wanted to turn my experience into something positive,” said Sinclair. He began working as a bartender in Wyoming where he would perform magic tricks behind the bar. That lead to an appearance on America’s Got Talent where he was noticed by many, including the owner of the Stanley Hotel.
Since then, Sinclair has developed his own unique style of magic that is evident in his performances. “The shows I present are less about fooling someone and more about connecting with someone. It’s about seeing a part of yourself you don’t recognize everyday,” he said. Sinclair performs six shows each weekend — three on Saturday and three on Sunday — and each show is unique, “You could see all three shows on Saturday and have a different experience each time,” he explained.
His shows get darker and darker as the night progresses. The 3 p.m. matinee performance is titled “The Magick Matinee” and highlights the history of magic, includes tributes to Harry Houdini’s performance at the Stanley in 1915 and includes traditional acts like escapism. Sinclair’s 6 p.m. Magick Show is more about fate and what happens after people have passed on. “You may see tarot cards and how audience members respond to fate,” he said. At the 8:30 p.m. show — titled “Illusions of the Past” — you’ll witness a theatrical seance, which is an attempt to communicate with spirits. “If you could combine history, ghost stories and illusion together you’d see what people can experience during a seance,” said Sinclair. This seance is not meant to spook or scare the audience though, it is meant to see what happens after someone has passed, learn about their legacy and why they come back to certain places. “It’s a legacy of love, not of murder. There are people who spent their summer vacations at the hotel for their whole lives, people who have fallen in love here,” explained Sinclair, “Despite what people think, there haven’t been many deaths at the Stanley.”
In fact, the old carriage house — where the Underground is located — is the building on the property where most deaths actually occurred. This is because it was turned into a hospital during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic where many patients died. In spite of contrary beliefs, there were no murders or brutal deaths there. When constructing the Underground, as much original wood from the carriage house was salvaged as possible. The new structure includes most of the original, reclaimed wood — even the stage is built from it.
Atop the Underground, sits a new restaurant — The Post Chicken & Beer — where guests can enjoy a meal and drink before the show. Finding the entrance to the Underground is tricky — and that’s on purpose. “It’s not easy to find and that’s part of the experience,” said Sinclair. We hear that you might have to enter through one of the bookcases in the lobby, but you’ll have to find out for yourself. Guests are encouraged to bring a drink or two down into the theatre because re-entry is not allowed — except for those with medical conditions. “I want it to be immersive. Once you step through that door you are in our world,” said Sinclair.
In addition to Sinclair’s weekend performances, he has chosen several magicians from the Magic Castle’s Academy of Magical Arts to perform during the week. “They are truly the best in the world at what they do,” said Sinclair. These guest magicians are classically trained and will rotate throughout the summer to perform for several days or weeks at a time. The appearances include Jon Armstrong, Siegfried Tieber, Elizabeth Messick and Simone Turkington.
If you’re looking to escape the confines of reality for a few hours and immerse yourself in another world, go see a show at Aiden Sinclair’s The Underground. You’ll be ushered through a completely unique and otherworldly narrative that will excite even the most stubborn of skeptics.
Aiden Sinclair’s The Underground is located inside The Post Restaurant at the Stanley Hotel, 333 E Wonderview Ave, Estes Park. Shows began July 2. Buy tickets here.