BURBANK, CA, USA
Fri., Sat. & Sun.
January 13-15, 2006
Hilton and Towers
2500 Hollywood Way
Adrienne Wilkinson Jennifer Ward-Lealand
Steven L. Sears
2006 OFFICIAL XENA CONVENTION
Convention Report by Taipo
Friday Con Report
Hello, Everyone! Well, the first full day of the convention is over. I had hoped to post after pre-registration last night, but I was too tired. I'm tired now, but I know I'll forget something, so here goes. Please forgive the fact that so much of this is very general, but I wanted to get something to you right away, and if I go into detail, this post will become a novel! If you have a question about specifics, please keep it in reserve, and post it to the list next week, when everyone's gotten home from the con, and will help me remember! I will try to be more specific about Lucy's and Renee's performances.
I will say that I've met up with BanCu, KTL, Joolz, rithebard, Leila-who says to say hi to all of you!- ampsearcher, and many lurkers, like Jackie, Gina, Cindy L., Miami, and plenty of other folks.
Angela was there, working hard as a volunteer, too. If I've forgotten anyone, please forgive me!
Pre-Registration on Thursday night, for those who can do it, was, as always, a good idea. Once the doors opened (no matter how hard they try, Creation never manages to get the doors opened on time- sorry, but it's true!) the line, which ran down along the building and then began doubling back on itself, really moved quite quickly. The
Creation staff and many volunteers were very efficient about getting our tickets stamped and our wristbands on. Then, it was on to the merchandise! The photo table, where folks can buy a large variety of 8x10 (and some larger) photographs of all the stars appearing at the convention, was all set up and open for business, as were the
poster table, the t-shirt table, and the table of pre-autographed photos. Lucy and Renee's tables were not yet completely set up; in fact, Renee apparently came later to set up her own table, while Sharon and Aleida were working Lucy's table. We got a peek at the Flawless shirts! Very nice. I also got to chat with Sharon, who was, poor woman, finally getting some dinner, which was constantly interrupted with necessary questions. She handled them all, and still demolished a fair amount of chicken, too!
Friday morning saw us waiting outside the hall again. I'd been told the night before that they were planning to open the doors at 11, but, well, you guessed it. That didn't happen. The show runs from 12-7, with the main events beginning at 1:00, so the doors really opened around noon. The fortunate folks who'd pre-registered had pretty much done their shopping the night before, but there were new tables to see, including Renee's, on which she was selling prints of her artwork, a great photo of her dressed in white, looking really good, and some mugs and other things I didn't see because there were a lot of people around that table. There were three tables of jewelry, too, most of which was sort of New-Age and Celtic themed.
The show began with a music video I missed (sorry, I was chatting.) It was a Music Video Salute to the 2nd Decade of Xena. It was followed, in turn, by another Video, about the Xenaverse, done by a fan, and it was really well done! After that, Sharon came on and welcomed us to the convention, and then the performances began.
After a music video salute to Adrienne Wilkinson, the woman herself came out and told us about her recent appearances on "ER" and "Charmed," and answered a lot of questions about her experiences working on Xena.
We also heard from David Franklin (Brutus), Tsianina Joelson (Varia), and Tim Thomerson (Meleager), who pretty much did the same thing- told us what they were working on, answered questions about their time on the show, and usually kept us laughing at something. Monday is Tsianina's birthday (31), so we did sing Happy Birthday before she left the stage. Tim was at the convention for the first time, and it took him about 30 seconds to find his footing, and then he just went off in thundering comic style, saying whatever came into his head, and generally keeping us in stitches, and probably giving some of the Creation staff hives with his EXTREMELY colorful
comments. No, there were no kids in the audience except one baby who didn't understand, and the rest of us just pretty much howled with laughter.
In between actors, we had music videos, including those fan videos that won the contest; a trivia contest, and an auction of Xena and Sci-fi collectibles. One winning music video that stood out for me was Jen Stamey's "I Enjoy Being a Girl." Very well done, Jen!! Angela also won for her video "Subtext is Main Text." Congrats, Angie!
The final item before the autograph signing began was the first part of a 3-part short film by Wendy Woody and Deb Abbott, called "The Spirit of Xena," in which a rather wishy-washy Xena fan has the whole world being mean to her (except her best friend) on her
birthday, which happened to be Halloween. Dressed in her Xena costume, tears streaming down her face, she wishes she could be more like Xena. The lights flicker, and a ghostly voice calls her name. In the water filling the sink, Xena's face appears for a brief instant. After shrieking, she calms down, decides it was due to lack of sleep, and--- we have to stay tuned for the next installment. Naughty, naughty, ladies.
The autograph lines were very long, and there were only 2 hours to go before the cabaret. Needless to say, the hotel restaurant was jumping, full of hungry Xenites, some of whom had very little time to shovel in their dinners before returning for the 9 pm show. The restaurant is expensive, so be forewarned if you come next year, but
the food is really, really good. And the wait staff is very obliging and professional. Just so you'll know for next time!
The high point of the whole day, for me, was the Cabaret. It was so wonderful. It began with Tim Thomerson, who came out and did a stand-up routine. I can't describe it well, because so much of his work physical, and you have to see his movements to really get the whole thing. He did a wonderful impression of Charles Bronson (but kept cracking up because it was so physically hard keeping his face contorted to match Bronson's classic look) and did what he called "Stagecoach, the movie." It was the whole story of the stagecoach and its riders racing through the west, and the Indians attacking, and a few crazy characters getting involved. He did all the sound effects with great gusto and realism, and finished with a slow-motion sequence in which the hero is shot full of arrows while still fighting back and driving the stage. He told us he'd never been to a Xena con before, and had really appreciated the audience support. He said he hoped to see us next year.
He was followed by Adrienne Wilkinson, who sang "One Fine Day" and "My Funny Valentine," followed by an a capella number that I must confess I didn't recognize. She has a very nice voice, and sang her heart out for us. She has certainly learned how to pose for the Xena crowd- she vamped it up and played the part of a diva with flair, and tongue-in-cheek the whole time. She kept us laughing between songs, and gave us a great performance.
Katherine Fugate came next, giving us a skit called "A Day in the Life of a Xena Writer." With the help of audience members, who played the parts of people calling her on the phone, or one who delivered something to her door, she gave us a very comic take on
the writing of "When Fates Collide." It was really well written, with a nice edge of sarcasm running through it that punched home the jokes aimed at "the studio," at straight men who think lesbians are really, really hot, and at the conflicting requests, instructions, and commands that writers get from everyone around them when they
work in the television industry.
Our last performers were the ever-classy Jennifer Ward-Lealand and her equally classy husband, Michael Hurst. They are true professionals, who know how to entertain, as well as act. And they can really sing! They were so at ease and gracious with us that it
was a pleasure to see them on stage. And their harmonious, mutually respectful relationship was obvious. Michael came out first and sang a song I can't say I recognized. It was a sort of melodramatic piece that began "I----- I who have nothing……" and went on from there. He had fun with it! I wish I could explain it better.
He then introduced Jennifer, and the two of them sang a duet by Sondheim together, about how the little things make for "perfect relationships" and make "marriage a joy." Again, I'm woefully ignorant about titles and things, so someone fill in the blanks for
me. By the way, Michael was very nicely dressed in a jacket, slacks, and button-down shirt, and Jennifer wowed us on her entrance is a shiny silver evening gown, looking very old Hollywood glamorous. Their duet was very clearly well-rehearsed and prepared,
and we were treated to the kind of performance that made the Broadway musical so popular.
They followed with another duet from "Cabaret," as a salute to Kevin Smith, with whom Jennifer sang the same piece in a performance of that show directed by Michael several years ago.
(I hope I can remember everything, but I'm sure I'll forget the order in which things occurred; that's just me. So forgive me if I mess up.)
Jennifer sang for us a song she called her "signature" tune, a real show-stopper that proclaims the singer's love for the piano as opposed to any other instrument. When she went off stage, the audience was on its feet.
Michael sang for us a very dramatic, somber piece from 1870's England called "The Ballad of Sam Hall," about a chimney sweep hanged for murder. It was very emotional and moving, and Michael made a fine job of it.
Jennifer came out again, and played the guitar and sang Bobby Gentry's song, the name of which I can't remember (I'm old and sleepy- shoot me) but we all know it, 'cause who can forget about Billy Joe McAllister jumping off the Talahatchee Bridge? Once
again, a really great performance.
They wound up with a duet of "You've Got A Friend," and received a standing ovation. The performers came out once more, and were applauded enthusiastically all over again. I'm really looking forward to seeing Michael and Jennifer tomorrow!
Okay, that's the best I can do for now. Take care, all, and I'll try to get back to you tomorrow night- no, make that tonight, 'cause it's officially Saturday, 12:34 a.m. in beautiful downtown Burbank.