Friday, February 7, 2014

Once Upon EnchantaCon part 2

After such a busy and long day, I ended up just getting room service and relaxing in the room to recharge my batteries. I allowed myself plenty of time to get dressed and do my hair and everything as I didn’t want to rush. That ended up being a good idea as curling my hair took forever and I had to do some last minute tweaking on my crown. At 8:30 I finally went down to the ballroom off the main lobby where the ball was being held. Once there I met up with my friends from earlier, Linnea, Alex and Kristi. We were a bit early so we just hung out with other ball-goers and took some pictures. I even was asked by several people who had organized the convention if they could take my picture for the website and blog. I got a lot of compliments on my costume and many people were impressed that I was able to reuse my prom dress and make the crown from scratch. There were a lot of amazing costumes to see such as three Belle’s, several Regina’s, a few Snow White’s, two Mr. Gold’s, one Hook, one Henry, some Emma’s, some Tinkerbell’s and Josh even dressed as Peter Pan. I will say that I was happy I was the only Siren as I didn’t want to be compared to anyone else by having the same costume.

Once 9pm came around they let us into the ballroom which was set up pretty nice. They had to photo areas set up which was cool. One was in the shape of an open book that said “Once Upon a Time.” The other was shaped like a coach and had lights around it. There were tables, a bar and a dance floor and they even had a dessert buffet. I tried a few things, but since I was wearing a while dress, I didn’t want to risk anything getting on it. I also didn’t want anything in my teeth. I mean how embarrassing would it have been to be chatting away to some of the actors and have food stuck in my teeth? Anyway, we didn’t have to wait long before the actors joined us.

It was so fun and relaxed as they just socialized with us. I first got to talk with Raphael again and he was so sweet. He complimented my costume and said I was pretty accurate to how the actual one on the show looked. He asked if I had made it from scratch and thought it was clever that I reused my prom dress. I told him I was just glad to get another use out of it after it had been in my closet for so long. He then said, “What like 5 years?” I then said, “Bless you but no. This is circa 2000.” He looked impressed and said, “It fits the same after 13 years?” When I said yes, he said “good for you.” We also talked a little about his career and said I had recently seen his SVU episode on TV and complimented his performance although I remarked that I didn’t like his character (he played a flasher who also assaulted some people). I said I preferred his nice characters like Jiminy or the role he played when he guest starred on Ghost Whisperer and how that role made me cry.

I also told him I really had an appreciation for what he does and explained that I’ve done a little bit of theater and he asked about the shows I’ve done. I said mostly musicals and that I would be trying out next for Spamelot. He said he liked that show and asked if I ever thought of acting as a career. I explained I had, but I thought it was too unstable for me and I much preferred doing it was a hobby. I said that I much preferred my current career as a librarian at an elementary as it allowed me to work with kids and help them appreciate literature. He said he thought that was a real admirable career and he could tell by the way I talked about it that I loved doing it. Seriously he is such a great person and he even took another picture with me.

Next I kind of mingled around the room and talk with other attendees and joined a small group that Keegan was talking with. She was such a delight and looked amazing a bright red off the shoulder dress with high stilettos again. As when I spoke to her before, she was very sweet and complimented me on my costume too. She was particularly impressed with my crown and the fact that I made it myself. She even touched the crystals I had weaved onto it and said it looked so close to the one on the show. I told her I loved making my own jewelry and had a kit for it. She replied that would be something she would like to get into with her kids. She’s truly a pleasant person and she even posed for a picture with me and Raphael.

After that I decided to get a drink at the bar (a very delicious Blue Hawaiian) and went to sit at the table Linnea, Alex and Kristi had grabbed. I was not able to sit down right away as my chair had been barrowed by none other than Tony who had grabbed it when he sat at a table next to ours. Shortly thereafter, he came over to us and apologized profusely for taking my chair and I said there were no worries. He then sat down with us for a bit and chit-chatted. He asked all of us where we were from and if we were enjoying ourselves which we said we were. Linnea and Alex (who were mother and daughter) told him a funny story of how Linnea’s husband knew that he couldn’t interrupt her while the show was on and that she thought Tony was very gallant and handsome. Tony chucked at that and joked that his character was giving the Prince Charming character a run for his money because there were a lot of people who loved Geppetto and saw him as a romantic figure who should have a love interest. He had even talked about that during the Q&A and said that there were some who favored a romance between him and the Blue Fairy or with Granny.

When he got to me one of the things we discussed was my interest in theater and I mentioned how one of the things I enjoyed about theater and performance art was the makeup process particularly in sci-fi projects. I related that anytime I had to play rolls that required a lot of makeup, I had more fun. Since he had been in Stargate, he knew all about that and we both agreed it was an art form is use such makeup. I also explained that I had recently performed in the play “The Woman In Black” which required me to look like a woman who died from a disease that made her waste away to a walking skeleton. He said he knew the play and thought it was very good. I explained that another reason I liked that part was in that my character was depressed and filled with a desire for vengeance for the loss of her child. I said it was the darkest part I ever played and I liked it because it was a challenge. He said that he liked roles like that too, but that sometimes they can be a difficult due to the subject matter. I agreed and said after I would come home from a performance of “The Woman In Black”, I had to play happy music to cheer myself up. All in all it was a great conversation and when he left he shook our hands and even kissed Linnea’s hand. He was really a class act because I saw him going to each table and taking the time to talk with each person.

I next had little encounters with Ethan and David. It was kind of difficult to chat with Ethan because his handlers were basically keeping people at arm’s length from him. It was two women and I swear they acted more like bouncers/bodyguards. I’m not kidding they were militant. I pretty much just got to say hello and I didn’t even attempt to ask to get a picture with him because I was pretty sure they would have bitten my head off. David was certainly more approachable and he was making the rounds. At one point a small group of us was with him and saw my drink and asked what it was. I told him it was a Blue Hawaiian and he said I should try a Mojito next which was what he was drinking. I told him I had never had one before and asked how good it was and he actually handed me his and said to take a sip. I was taken completely by surprise and of course tried to give it back to him, but he insisted. I just took one small sip and it was actually pretty tasty and I told him so. He said if I went back to the bar for a second drink he expected me to get one and I was like “Yes sir” and saluted. A short while later I did get one and made sure to let him know and what was truly funny that he even asked to sip mine. I thought to myself, “Really we’re sharing drinks now? Ok.” I’m not sure if he was just checking to make sure I followed through, or if he just wanted more as he had finished his, but it was funny. He was also was kind enough to take another picture with me so he got points for being awesome in my book.

Now, on to the best part of the evening. I got to dance with Gil McKinney. Yes, I danced with a prince at a ball. The luck of this is not lost on me. This is how it went down. Previously, I related that I got Gil’s autograph. While during the course of that meeting we were talking and as he had mentioned that he knew ballroom dance, I asked him if he was planning on getting his groove on at the ball. Now this was something I had asked all the actors so it was not a question tailored just for him. He replied that he thought so if there was good music and then he asked if I was going to be on the dance floor. I said absolutely yes as I had taken dance lessons for years and loved music. I then said, “Well if you’re there and want to dance and need a partner, I’d be happy to join you.” He smiled and that sounded great. He asked my name and I told him and also said for him to keep your eyes open at the ball as I’d be dressed as the Siren. He said he would and handed me back the autographed picture and said he’d see me later. As I walked away, I saw that he had written “Shall We Dance?” on it which I thought was sweet and funny.

Fast forward to the ball and in my mingling about the room, I encounter Gil. We said hello and he complimented my costume and said I looked amazing. He looked great too in a black suit. Like everyone else he was impressed that I had done it myself. I thanked him again for the autograph and said I loved what he wrote. I did tell him that I knew he was busy and had to go about the room and talk and take pictures so I would understand if he wouldn’t have time to dance. He however said not to worry and that he wouldn’t forget. He was indeed busy mingling, but each time we made eye contact he smiled as if to remind me he would find me for a dance. The only time I thought he forgot was at around 11pm when he and the other actors went to leave the room. I was standing near the doors and he saw me and as he walked by he caught my arm and said, “Don’t worry, we’re just going to take some pictures and then I’ll be back.” I said, “Ok I’ll be here.” He did come back a few minutes later and came straight to me and said “let’s go pick a song.” Josh the MC had an IPad that was hooked up to speakers so that there was music and we picked the song “Apologize” to dance to.

Now I’m not going to wax poetic about the dance and say corny stuff like, “everyone else faded away” or “time stopped.” Rather we just had a nice conversation. He complimented me on my dancing which he referred to as being graceful. I thanked him and said he had nice moves and rhythm and I related that I had taken tap, jazz and ballet lessons for five years and even knew some swing and ballroom. He said it was too bad my dress was too long as we could have done a swing dance. I laughed and said the way we were dancing was fine, but we did get to throw in some small twists and turns. He asked what I liked to do when I wasn’t working and I explained that I was into musicals like he was and was even thinking of trying out for Spamelot. I told him what the show was about and he said it sounded really funny and he was sure I would get cast. I also asked if he was enjoying his trip and he said yes although he was sorry that he wasn’t going to be able to do more in the area since he’d been a kid the last time he was in Florida. I laughed and said “let me guess, it was a family trip to Disney World right?” He said yes and I replied that’s usually the reason for family trips to Florida. I told him I went all the time growing up since I lived a little over an hour away and he said that was lucky for me.

All too soon the music was ending and as it stopped he dipped me which was nice. Afterwards he was sweet enough to pose for a picture with me since I hadn’t gotten one in the morning and he even joked that with my white dress and his black suit, it looked like we were posing for a wedding photo. After that, with a shared hug and kisses on the cheek, we said good night and since I didn’t think I would be seeing him again I wished him well and safe travels home which he repeated to me. The other actors were all gone by that point and he left too. The party was still going on and I stayed for a little while with my friends who informed me that my dance with Gil was a hot topic among the other attendees. Apparently there was speculation as to what I did to get him to dance with me. Well, I say here and now, that I didn’t pay off his handlers, I didn’t know him from before and I didn’t offer him anything. I was just my nice, friendly self and I treated him normally and I would have asked him for a dance even if he was another convention-goer.

I left shortly after my dance with Gil as I was exhausted from the long day and I was planning to leave in the morning as I had stuff to do to get ready for work on Monday. I said goodbye to Linnea, Alex and Kristi and a few others I had gotten to know and we exchanged contact information. As I walked back to my room, I had to pass through an open air courtyard and I paused to admire the night sky. It was very clear out with a light breeze and I literally said out loud, “what a gorgeous night.” At that moment, the song, “A Lovely Night” popped into my head. If anyone is familiar with the Rogers & Hammerstein production of “Cinderella”, this song is sung by the heroine who is describing her night at the ball. Part of the lyrics are, “A lovely night, a lovely night. A finer night you know you'll never see. You meet your prince, a charming prince. As charming as a prince will ever be.” I was on such a high that I was singing those lyrics and waltzing to my room. I’m sure I gave the people watching the security cameras a good chuckle. I even kept singing after getting back to my room and taking a shower although I switched to “I Could Have Danced All Night” from the musical “My Fair Lady.” What with the noise from my shower and the singing, I bet my next door neighbor was none too thrilled particularly was it about 1am.

In the morning, I ended up waking at about 6:30 which was way earlier than I wanted since it took awhile to fall asleep and it wasn’t a restful sleep as I don’t sleep well in hotels. I ended up getting some breakfast and strolled around the hotel for a bit. The first event for the convention Sunday morning was the breakfast with the actors, but that was only if you had the most expensive package. The other events were not starting until about 9:30 or 10am and I was planning on leaving by then. To pass the time, I bought a newspaper and sat in the lobby with some hot chocolate as it was a bit chilly. It turned out to be lucky I did that as breakfast was being held in same ballroom where the ball was held which was right off the lobby (I didn’t know that’s where it was going to be). I ended up being able to see and briefly chat with almost all of the actors again. I saw Raphael again first and he smiled, said good morning and asked if I had a good time at the ball. I said yes and told him again what a pleasure it was to meet him. He asked if I was staying for the whole day and I said I wished I could, but that I had a lot to do at home. I then asked him if he was going back to filming right away to which he replied yes. I then wished him a safe trip home and a Happy Thanksgiving (since it was next week) and he wished me the same. I also had quick exchanges with Ethan and David that went along the same lines.

I next saw Tony who greeted me with a big smile and remarked how “bright eyed and chipper” I looked. I thanked him and said considering how late I stayed up, I was surprised I was able to get up at all. He also asked if I was staying and I told him about how I had to work on some things for school on Monday. He did ask if I saw a lot of kids reading fairy tales. I was able to tell him yes and that actually in the previous week some of the older grades had been working on studying fairy tales and connecting their lessons and morals to modern life. He said that sounded like a fun and interesting project and he said he could tell I really enjoyed my work. He then wished me well and a Happy Thanksgiving and I wished him the same and he shook my hand.

Lastly, I saw Gil who greeted me enthusiastically and actually sat down with me for a few minutes. When I told him I wasn’t able to stay, he said that was sorry to hear that. I said that while I would have liked to stay, there was a lot to do at home to get ready for work and for Thanksgiving. We talked about the holiday for a bit and he told me he was heading home to do a big family get together and asked if I was doing the same. I replied that I was and was actually going to start some cooking of the desserts and sides over the next few days. We they talked about staying in touch and exchanged Twitter and Facebook info so that we could add/follow each other. I then thanked him again for the dance and said what a please it was too meet and he said it was lovely to me as well. We then shook hands and said goodbye as he had to go get ready for the morning events. He was really sweet and such a gentleman. After all that I was pretty happy as I truly had not expected to see any of hem again so it was lucky and a nice surprise.

After that I briefly wandered about the event space and ran into Josh again which was nice. He looked a bit tired and I joked with him about pacing himself with the coffee as he had drank a lot the previous day and it had made him a little over-stimulated. He laughed and said he was definitely going to be careful. We made plans to keep in touch on Twitter and Facebook and then hugged and goodbye. The only actor I didn’t see again was Keegan, but I heard later that her voice was pretty much gone so it made sense that she wasn’t moving about as much.

That was pretty much it for me. I left around 10:30 to drive home which was a good idea as I was exhausted. At any rate, I came away from the experience with wonderful memories and many new friends. The convention was so much fun and aside from the last minute cancelations from some of the actors, it went off very well. The people who organized it did a great job and made sure everyone was enjoying themselves. I think the convention really illustrated how much Once Upon a Time has touched so many people and has brought them together even though many live far apart and have different lives and interests outside of the show. Many attendees’ were already familiar with each other from chatting about the show on Twitter and Facebook so there was already some fellowship built in.

When it comes down to it, my first convention ever was awesome and I know that I won’t be nervous to go to another one. Based on what others have said, I know many people hope that there will be another EnchantaCon in the near future and if there is, I will most assuredly try to be there for it. Everything and everyone was amazing and it was so nice to meet you all. Till the next time…stay enchanted!

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