Well, the big day came, and boy, was it a big day.
- On the way to Coney Island, I told the Kid I’d buy her a present at Elsie Fest. She said, “Like what? A Darren Criss plushie?” (Now I really want that to be a thing. It would have to have a removable shirt, because that guy can’t keep his shirt on, and like, little plush abs.)
- Then she said, “No, you want a Klaine plushie.” And that’s even better, because the only thing that would make it a Klaine plushie, as opposed to, say, Darren Criss and Chris Colfer plushies, or even Kurt and Blaine plushies, is magnetic lips. Or holdey hands that fit together. Think about it: you know you want one.
- I wore my Lin-Manuel shirt. I got lots of compliments, and the Kid wanted me to make friends with another lady we saw wearing the same shirt.*
- Everything was at least an hour late, which kind of sucked at the beginning, when we had to stand in the sun on the boardwalk for over an hour waiting to get in, and at the end when I had to drive home by myself at 10pm on a school night.
- The audience was way more diverse than I expected. A lot more straight guys (mostly with women, but still), a lot more people of color than I usually see at Broadway (but then, three black headliners is a lot more than we usually have on Broadway, and there were piano bar performers and surprise guests of color, too, so well done, Elsie Fest), and a lot more age diversity, from children up to way older than me. Also it’s always nice to see gay couples openly displaying affection. It felt like a safe space for everyone there (to me, with my straight white cis privilege, anyway) and that was nice. And JOYFUL. There hasn’t been a whole lot of joyful in 2016 and it was nice to just spend the day celebrating art and nerdery.
- I did not stand on a ladies room line once ALL DAY. Well done, Ford Amphitheater.
- Megan Hilty was amazing. She sang “Secondhand White Baby Grand” and the Kid and I were SO happy. After her set, we went to use the rest room and found the stage door by accident. The Kid was so busy stalking Megan Hilty (she came within two feet of us and waved back when the Kid waved to her) that she completely missed Darren Criss walking by about 5 feet away.
- I think this means that I missed the Darren Criss/Tituss Burgess duet I was looking forward to, but it might have just been Darren introducing Tituss. Anyway, once I pried the Kid away from the stage door, I got to see the rest of Tituss Burgess and he killed it. Love him. And then he told us all we have to VOTE and don’t worry, Tituss, I will.
- OMG Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLauchlin from Stranger Things. Obviously I loved them in Stranger Things, but I love them even more now. They sang with Darren and then each sang with his sister. And Darren was pretending he was fanboying because of Stranger Things, but you know he was really just excited to sing Lion King with a real Simba. Which was pretty awesome. (Yes, yes, Darren can be two kinds of nerd at the same time. Of course he can.)
- After their set, the Kid dragged me back to the stage door and they came out and Gaten said, “Hi, guys!” in our general direction and I got a pic of Caleb walking by and now I have something I can show the Kid the next time she says I’m mean to her.
- Corey Cott is my new favorite. He did the Pokemon theme song, as promised, and a jazz version of “If I Were A Rich Man” that was amazing (I’ll be using that word a lot) and is generally adorable and talented and I’ll go see whatever he’s in from now on.
- Todrick Hall. I don’t even know what to say. Awesome.
- Gonna listen to all the Jason Robert Brown cast albums. I was going to anyway, because Lin-Manuel, but now I’m definitely going to. I knew I was out of the loop from about The Producers to Fun Home, but I didn’t realize how far out of the loop. Getting back into the loop. Also, I need to Wicked. I purposely avoided that one because I love the book, but Megan Hilty has convinced me. (Megan Hilty claims that “Popular” is from that show, but we know it was actually from Glee. She also seems to think she sang it before Kurt Hummel did. Doubtful.)**
- Pasek and Paul. I love you guys. I love you for Smash, and I love you for yesterday. And for Corey Cott. And for Cynthia Erivo.
- Cynthia Erivo got a standing O before she sang a note, because Cynthia Erivo. Then she sang.
- The piano bar. So many sing-alongs! And also so close to so many Broadway singers doing their thing.
- There needs to be authorized re-entry. It’s a LONG day, and varied enough that it’s unlikely anyone will like everything. My Kid wanted to go walk on the beach, and I couldn’t let her. My friends would probably have stayed longer if they could have gone to Luna Park and then come back. And for me, by the time Lena Hall came on, I was tired, and had a lot of sensory input and a lot of time in a room with lots of strangers and I would have rather gone for a walk. Don’t get me wrong–Lena Hall did her thing really well and was incredible–but her thing isn’t really my thing and I can only enjoy it when my energy reserves are full. They were not, and I was trying to save some energy for Darren Criss and for the drive home. Taking some time to recharge would have been preferable to expending energy at that point.
- Around then, I tweeted “I’m officially too old to be a @DarrenCriss fan. #pastmybedtime” But on reflection, I realize I was exactly the same when I was 18. In fact, watching Lena Hall was a lot like watching my brother when he was in a band, when I would complain to my parents for making me go to a bar and stay out past my bedtime. And THEN I realized that my “Born This Way” t-shirt would say “OLD.” At least now that I’ve grown into my lifestyle, nobody thinks I’m weird for hardly ever doing things like this.
- But then, while they were setting up for Darren Criss, the piano player played “You’ll Be Back,” and hundreds of people sang along joyfully. It was just what I needed to remind me why I was there.
- The Glee song that Darren teased turned out to be “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” which is one of my favorite Blaine songs and one I don’t turn to often because it’s such a sad moment. By this time, a lot of people had left and I was able to move up to the tenth row and it was glorious.
- Also, “Teenage Dream” happened. However, Elsie Fest, if Darren is going to sing at the piano, can you put the damned thing in the middle of the stage? If I had paid what that seat cost I would have killed someone, because I couldn’t see him at all from where I was. (On the plus side, just watching the audience watch Darren sing “Teenage Dream” was worth the price of admission.)
- The 80’s dancers made me feel old. Their costumes were not quite right. Their dancing was not quite right. It was almost like they didn’t actually remember the 80’s but were trying to recreate the experience from videos. (See #16.)
- If you look up “fanboy” in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure this is the picture you’ll see:
- I confess I was not expecting Nirvana. But watching the Millennials jump up and down like we used to was hysterical.
- Nobody sang “Pure Imagination” and shame on you for that, Elsie Fest.
- This day made me think of: the friends I brought with me, the Kid, my mother, my brother, KPD, several ex-boyfriends, Wil Wheaton, two friends from work, high school, college, watching TV with my family of origin, watching TV with my current family, my neice’s birthday party, and The Polar Bear Club. That’s a lot of things, and a lot of people whose fancy would have been tickled by something during the day.
*Read the comments. This story wasn’t over when I thought it was, and now I hope it has an interesting ending.
**I’ve been listening to the OCR of Wicked on Spotify, and it turns out the lady who played April Rhodes also thinks she sang “Popular” before Kurt Hummel did! Go figure. She’s also a big Hamilton fan and I highly recommend her episode of The Room Where It’s Happening.