Elsie Fest FAQ–2018 Edition

Hi! I’m doing this again because a lot of people thanked me for it last year. Let me know if you have more questions. Please keep in mind that I’m just a fan. I have no inside information, but I do pay attention. When in doubt, get official information from the source:


official twitter: @elsiefest

 Facebook event page

1. When is Elsie Fest this year?

October 7, 2018. Doors will open at 5pm, and the concert will start at 6pm.

2. Where is Elsie Fest this year?

Summerstage, Central Park, New York City

3. Where do I buy tickets?

Buy tickets via the website at www.elsiefest.com.

4. How much will tickets cost me?

General Admission is $59.99 + $16.70 fees = $76.69

Bleacher Pass is $84.99 + $23.15 fees = $108.14

5. Are there seats at the venue?

There are some. Summerstage is primarily a lawn seating venue, which means everybody brings a blanket and finds a seat on the ground. There are bleachers, but they are in the back of the venue. There are no assigned seats at Elsie Fest this year. A Bleacher pass allows you to enter the bleacher section and guarantees you a seat. It’s open seating.

Here’s a Google Street View of the venue.

I have arthritis/use a wheelchair/just can’t sit on the ground. What do I do?

I wish I had a good answer here. Hopefully, Elsie Fest and/or Summerstage will be forthcoming about this information when tickets actually go on sale. If they are not, my best advice is to ask for what you need. Reach out to Elsie Fest and Summerstage and say that you need a seat (or a place you can see from your wheelchair) (or whatever accommodation you may need) and ask what they will do to accommodate you. Under the ADA, they have to accommodate you if you have a medical need.*

You can reach out to Elsie Fest at info@elsiefest.com.

I’m told you can also get info by reaching out to Summerstage directly. @SummerStage on Twitter or info@cityparksfoundation.org.

Last year, there was an ADA section which I’m told had an excellent view from a wheelchair. I imagine the same will be done this year.

6. Will there be VIP?

There is no VIP seating.

Meet & Greet costs extra and there is no information available yet as to who will be included or what kind of packages will be available. Last year it was only photos and they were $100 each plus fees.

There is no way to know when the Meet & Greet will go on sale. Last year, it was the Tuesday before the event, and was announced only hours beforehand. If Meet & Greet is important to you, and particularly if you want a M&G with Darren, you need to pay close attention to emails and follow @elsiefest and @DarrenCriss on Twitter.

  • This is an upgrade. You must already have a ticket to Elsie Fest to use it. The price does not include admission.

7. Who will be performing?

Announced performers are:

Sutton Foster, Joshua Henry, Alex Newell

Special Guests: Rufus Wainwright, Jodi Benson, Grant Gustin, Matthew Morrison, Casey Cott, Anna and the Apocalypse, Be More Chill, The Prom

More guests TBA!

8. What about Marie’s Crisis?

They will be there. It wouldn’t be Elsie Fest without a singalong!

9. Will I be able to meet Darren Criss at Elsie Fest?

Probably not. Last year, tickets for Darren’s M&G sold out in under 2 minutes.

10. Can I bring a dog to Elsie Fest?

Sadly, no.

11. Is Elsie Fest going to sell out?

It might. But I doubt it. Bleacher seats will sell out quickly, though.

12. When will additional guests be announced?

You never know. While I have no way of knowing who has been invited or what kind of negotiations are going on behind the scenes, they have made it clear that Darren is the person who arranges the talent at Elsie Fest. He’s a busy guy. We never know what he’s up to.

There will be more guests. Some will be announced before Elsie Fest, others will be surprise guests (if the past two years are a guide.) Buy tickets based on what’s announced, don’t get your hopes up, and enjoy watching it unfold.

13. I have nobody to sit with at Elsie Fest. May I sit with you?

Of course! Look for the yellow blankets. I’ll be sitting on these and also wearing my yellow Elsie Cast t-shirt, so I should be easy to find.


I’ll be passing out stickers and trying to interview as many fans as I can during the day. I’ll also be getting contact info for people who have good Elsie Fest stories and want to do a full episode interview. And all strays are welcome to hang out with us.

14. I wish there was a way to get familiar with the music of all of these artists before Elsie Fest.

I made a Spotify playlist for this purpose, and I’m happy to share. You can find it here.

15. I was hoping to take pictures/video at Elsie Fest, but the website for Summerstage says no cameras are allowed! What do I do?

The official policy says “Professional gear including video cameras or cameras with lens 100mm and over are not permitted.” Your phone or digital camera should be fine. They don’t want people taking professional-quality photos so that they can keep control of publicity.

16. Can I bring food and/or a water bottle?

Yes, but no coolers or alcohol. Beer, wine, soft drinks, and food are sold within the venue. There is also a water fountain to refill your water bottle. It’s located in the corner of the venue to the right of the stage (house right).

17. How do I get to Summerstage?

Summerstage is in Central Park at East 72nd Street. The closest subway is the 6 train at 68th street, or you can take the C train to 72nd Street on the West Side and walk across the park. Here’s a handy guide from TripSavvy that’s for the free concerts, but a lot of the info applies also to Elsie Fest.

18. What time should I get there?

Darren Criss fans are crazy. Lots of them like to stand around all day just to listen to soundcheck. Others are obsessed with being first into the venue. These people will line up early, and I do mean EARLY. Last year, the first tweet I saw from someone on line was at about 9am. If being up front is important to you, I would either buy a meet & greet or get there by 10:30am or so at the latest.

Since meet & greet typically happens before the event, buying a M&G ticket is a way to get into the venue a bit early. This is not guaranteed however, and Darren events are notorious for delays.

19. I’m looking for someone to travel/sit/swap tickets/share a hotel room with. How can I find someone? 

Check out www.elsiedate.com! It’s a new, fan-run service for fans of musical theater where you can meet new friends, sell tickets (at cost–no scalping!), or even find an actual date, if you want to.

*I’m sure I don’t have to say this, because Elsie Fest fans are awesome, but please don’t abuse this. People with disabilities actually need accommodations, and I want to live in a world where they get them with minimal fuss. When people abuse these policies, everyone’s life gets worse. So advocate for yourself if you need it, and everyone else, just sit on the damn ground or don’t come.


Last update Friday, September 7 at 6:03pm EDT


Could it be? Yes, it could.

Something’s coming.

Earlier, Darren tweeted this:

And just recently, the official Elsie Fest Twitter (@ElsieFest) tweeted this:

Something is happening at 9am tomorrow. Unclear if that is Eastern or Pacific time. Either way, I’ll be at work, but I’ll update in all the places when I can.

Thanks to those of you who have supported #LittleOrphanElsie and put her where Darren could see her. Obviously he heard us.


You can buy Little Orphan Elsie stuff here.

Plans for Elsie Cast

I promised two weeks ago that I’d let you know my plans for Elsie Cast after my vacation, and I (unlike some people who will remain nameless) believe in communication, so here is the promised update.


Vacation selfie with my dog

To recap the issues I was considering:

  1. I just got a new job that is busier and more emotionally satisfying than my previous job.
  2. I was feeling an enormous amount of pressure (mostly self-imposed) from trying to promote Elsie Fest when its producers are not forthcoming with information.
  3. Given the limitations on my time and creativity, I needed to go away to reassess this project as a whole and determine what parts of it I want to continue and what changes need to be made.

Here’s what I have decided. The elements I love about this project are:

  1. Making Broadway friends on the internet and at events.
  2. Doing giveaways, especially of stuff I’ll likely throw away that other people really value (like Playbills, or giveaway items from Broadwaycon).
  3. Doing the interviews.

The parts I hate are:

  1. Scheduling interviews
  2. Defending Elsie Fest’s business practices.
  3. The pressure to be on top of the “news” about Elsie Fest.

So my plan is to basically keep doing Twitter and to some extent, Facebook. I will continue doing giveaways as the mood strikes me. I will honor the pool for the Elsie Fest announcement if anyone wins. I will also try to update this blog more often, because I’ve always enjoyed writing. The podcast, however, will happen when it happens. If I have an opportunity to interview someone interesting, I will take it. But I just can’t keep to a schedule right now. Hopefully, this will work out to more or less monthly, but we’ll see what happens.

In other areas, I will keep designing and selling t-shirts. I’ve also gone back to writing Glee fanfic lately, which you can find on AO3 under the name PaellaIsComplicated.

I will definitely be at Broadwaycon 2019 and I look forward to seeing some of you there. I will be tweeting news about Elsie Fest as it comes, but I don’t commit to getting to it first. I’ve got other priorities. And I will not apologize for Elsie Fest and their lack of communication. They absolutely should be communicating with their audience year-round and this is no way to run a business. I have no idea what they are thinking and I’m done trying to figure it out.

Thank you all for your support, whether it’s listening, following, commenting, buying merch, or helping me out, I appreciate all of it. The friendships I’ve made and the knowledge that I actually helped people get to and enjoy Elsie Fest last year are the absolute highlights of this project.


Thoughts about Cursed Child (no spoilers)

I’ve seen Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (part 1) and I have thoughts. Part 2 thoughts are in blue for Ravenclaw. 

I am a massive Potterphile and have been since I first read books 1-3 in 1999. When she was in first grade, my Kid came home with a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that she found in her classroom library. “Look, Daddy!” She said. “They had this book you like in my classroom library! I brought it home for you!”

I was offended. Yes, my husband also loves Harry Potter. But I loved it first, I love it more, and we own that book, goddammit.

When she asked permission to read it, we said it was fine, figuring she wouldn’t be able to understand it and she’d put it down.

She loved it.

When she asked to read Chamber of Secrets, we said, “Sure!” After all, those books get harder as Harry ages (which is brilliant), so a six-year-old will just get frustrated and put the books down, and she’ll come back to them when she’s older.

Then we had to make a rule that she couldn’t read Prisoner of Azkaban until she was 8. By now, she’s read all seven books at least 5 times. She knows the names of the chapters. She owns a stuffed Crookshanks and a pygmy puff, and we had a Potter-themed birthday party when she turned ten. She’s seen Puffs twice.

All of this to say that when Cursed Child came to America and tickets went on sale four days before the Kid’s 14th birthday, it seemed like a sign. We got my parents to chip in, and we bought the tickets. In October. For now.

When I read the play, (which I did as soon as it was published–at that point we didn’t know if it would ever come to America, and who knows when I’ll get to London?) I wasn’t impressed. It was fine, but it didn’t feel like a JK Rowling book.

Seeing the play is a whole different thing.

Now, I’m not going to spoil anything about the play itself, but I am going to talk about my experience, so if you really want to enter that theater without knowing ANYTHING, you should stop reading now. Just know that I think it’s worth it.



The theater is an experience from the moment you walk in. Of course there’s merch–lots and lots of merch. They renovated the entire theater, so there are wizardy touches everywhere–sconces and lamps and the way the bar is designed. The coat room is called a cloak room and I found that really funny, for some reason.

The Lyric has always been a beautiful (and huge) theater, and it still is. I believe they added seats somehow in this renovation, so it’s really, really big. It also has a long entryway because the theater is really on 43rd street but the entry is on 42nd street (a more prestigious address, especially back in the day when it was built), so entering is an experience in which you are drawn into what is actually the main lobby–a three story space that is hexagonal (I think–I can count sides tonight if that’s important to anyone). (I didn’t. You’ll have to count for yourself if you care.) You walk into a two-story lobby with shops around and a large split staircase to one side that leads down to another lobby with bathrooms, or up to a balcony that leads to the mezzanine and then up further to the balcony. There are bars on all the levels, and tons and tons (and tons) of people.

The merch is not bad. There’s your typical HP stuff (there’s a Ravenclaw shirt I have my eye on), some new wands (belonging to newly introduced characters from the play) and of course merch specific to Cursed Child. They have lovely stuffed owls, too. The play-specific merch changes for Part 2, so if there’s something you really want at the first show, you should get it. The general HP stuff in the 42nd street lobby is always there, and I was told that shop is accessible whenever the box office is open, so if you’re looking for a new house scarf, you can stop in any time.

Disappointingly, they did not get permission from Warner Bros to sell any of the branded foods. There is no butterbeer. There are no chocolate frogs. Not an Every Flavor Bean in sight, even.

Now to the play itself (again, no spoilers about the story itself, but slight spoilers in the form of mentioning specific elements of the Wizarding World that appear in the play.) (I have reviewed these in the spirit of Keep the Secrets, and there’s nothing I say here that hasn’t already been covered in published interviews.) It’s magnificent. They brought over all the principals from the original production in London and they are wonderful. The acting is incredible. The stagecraft is brilliant. They have managed to reproduce things from the Wizarding World that we have come to expect–things like moving staircases and wizard duels and travel by Floo Powder–in ways that are completely believable and every bit as good as the films. While some things are obvious (the staircases are pushed by actors who are visible during the scene) other things are impenetrable even by my family, and I have a background in theater and have certainly seen enough Broadway shows to know how things are done, while my husband has worked in film and my child is obsessed with how magic is done onstage and has been ever since she saw Mary Poppins when she was six.

The level of precision in the magic is amazing. I want to know how much practice it took to get everything perfect. I want to know about things that have gone wrong. I want to know what’s the most fun. In any case, the stagecraft is delightful and absorbing and I kept finding myself delighting in the fact that I was so absorbed in the story that I didn’t even appreciate at first glance how challenging some of the effects must be for the actors. (Ex: when a character travels from point A to point B using an invisibility cloak, the actor obviously did not take the same path. Yet it’s completely believable.)

And possibly the best part–I’ve often wondered why the cast never goes to stage door after Part 1. After all, last night they all went home after the play. It’s because the play has been left on a cliffhanger, and it would disrupt the suspension of disbelief if you then went and chatted with one of the actors before seeing Part 2. (I don’t know why I didn’t figure this out, but I didn’t.) Just as coming into the theater sets the proverbial stage for your experience of seeing the play, walking out of the theater keeps you in the moment. I expect that walking in tonight will help me reorient myself to the moment where the story left off.

Some general notes for theatergoers:

  • There are a lot of bathrooms, but there are a LOT of people. They advise you to get to the theater an hour before the show starts. That’s when you should use the bathroom. The lines get long.
  • There are merch shops EVERYWHERE. Several per floor. I’m fairly certain they all have the same merch, although it’s possible they only have the general Potter stuff (like House t-shirts) in the front lobby. In any case, my advice is that if there’s a long line for a merch shop, you should just go find another one. Again, the merch changes between shows. 
  • The sippy cups are awesome and very worth the price of a beverage.
  • There are two different Showbills (one for each part), which is cool. (FYI, Showbill is made by Playbill, but has family-friendly advertising.)
  • Frozen lemonade (regular or strawberry) is available in the snack shop of the main floor lobby. The strawberry is overly sweet, but the regular is delicious. You’re welcome.
  • Plenty of legroom in the mezzanine. It’s probably worth it to get seats in the front mezzanine or front balcony. I don’t remember how much they cost. We paid a lot for rear mezzanine and it’s FAR from the stage.
  • If you need a quiet break between acts, the quietest place during intermission is the front lobby shop. Most people either use the bathroom, stay in their seats, or go to buy merch and/or food in the central lobby area.

TL:DR–The show is awesome and you should go see it if you possibly can. I am completely exhausted but I can’t wait for tonight to see Part 2! Part 2 was also excellent, of course, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. I was exhausted and the Kid was cranky, so that may have factored in. But I think plot-wise it gets a bit more convoluted (and a lot darker, of course) and the end bit is rather talky and kind of anticlimactic. In the books, I’ve always found that soothing, but it’s sort of odd in a play. Still, I cheered, I cried, and in the end I was on my feet and madly applauding. Also I spent $65 on merch, so.