Reckoning

I was really sure Elsie Fest was going to be announced on Thursday. Darren was on Colbert. The website was being updated. The date and location were revealed. It was about to happen.

Then they locked down the website. (I’m not going to say the date and location because it’s possible they were not official.)

I went to bed at the usual time because that’s just me. I don’t like staying up late and I’m not going to do it for something as frivolous as a concert announcement, even if it is my favorite concert. I did, however, take a shower before bed so I’d have a bit of extra time in the morning to catch up on the announcement, possibly watch Darren’s interview from Thursday night, and deal with what I expected would be a whole lot of Twitter.

Instead, I woke up at five, checked my text messages, and saw one from my buddy in the Darren Criss Army that said, “Sadly no mention of Elsie on Colbert.” (I’ve since heard that a friend of a friend of a friend was at the live taping and evidently Darren did mention Elsie Fest, but it was edited out of the broadcast. There’s no way to verify that claim, of course, but I do trust my source.)

I got really angry. Really, really angry. I felt hurt. I anticipated a pained reaction on Twitter and felt responsible for soothing those feelings–a responsibility I cannot carry. I felt like loving this concert was the worst decision I had ever made. Part of me wanted to tweet out “I quit.” and just vanish.

Instead, I went with this:

The fact is, I do feel a sense of responsibility to my audience–listeners, readers, and Twitter followers. But that responsibility goes only as far as what I’ve promised. Up until now, I’ve worked hard to be a reliable source of Elsie Fest news, to put out a podcast every two weeks (until my recent announcement that I was reducing that), and to be at major events like Elsie Fest and Broadwaycon as a fan ambassador to prod for Elsie news, to get you fun audio, and to be a friendly face for newbies who wanted to come but were feeling shy about going alone. Those are commitments I made and I take them seriously. So this tweet (and this post) is my notice that I’m re-evaluating my commitment. Over the next two weeks, I commit to nothing, and by that point I’ll let everyone know what to expect.

I started my thinking process, and what it came down to is this. I’m done being jerked around by these people. I don’t feel obligated to go to Elsie Fest at all. I’m going to do what’s fun. I like being a Broadway fan. I like being recognized as a Broadway fan. I like giving things away to strangers. I hate defending the producers of Elsie Fest. I hate not knowing what my fall is going to look like because I’m holding dates “in case.” I hate waiting and waiting to be told something that should have been advertised months ago. I hate standing outside of Elsie Fest watching the chaos going on inside the gates while everything runs late. I hate feeling like I might not get a good spot at the concert because the line at meet & greet is taking so long.

I decided I’d wait and see if Elsie Fest seems enticing enough to go to or not. “If they advertise to me and it looks like fun, I’ll go. If not, I won’t,” I thought. It felt right. It felt good to let them chase me for a change. I felt like I was reclaiming my dignity after feeling like an idiot who cares more about Elsie Fest than its own producers do.

When I got to work, I saw this tweet:

 

It rang so true to me. That’s exactly how I felt. Like Elsie Fest is a guy I’m dating who makes me feel great when I’m with him, but when I’m not, I have no idea if he even thinks about me at all. Remember that book He’s Just Not That Into You? It came out way after I got married, but I saw the author on Oprah and I really took to the idea. I wish someone had told me this theory when I was still dating–it would have saved me a lot of time. The premise is that if a guy doesn’t call you enough (or whatever it is you want him to do), you should move on. If he is that into you, he’ll call more. And if he’s not, you haven’t wasted time. He’s unlikely to change, so if you don’t like him the way he is, you actually don’t like him.

That’s essentially the decision I had already made. I was going to back off and let the Elsie Fest folks come to me. I’m done saving my Saturday nights for Darren Criss. If he invites me to something, and I’m free, and it looks like fun, I’ll go. But otherwise? Screw him. There is cabaret several times a week in New York City. There’s Broadway Princess Party. There’s Marie’s Crisis if I want a sing along, and Broadwaycon for the sense of camaraderie. Not to mention the actual Broadway shows and stage door and collecting Lights of Broadway cards. There’s plenty of ways to enjoy Broadway and cabaret without Elsie Fest.

I feel that sadness that comes after a necessary breakup. I feel a little bit hurt, and a lot bit what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-them? Why do they keep the date a secret? Why don’t they communicate with fans? Why haven’t they acknowledged my existence for two years, over which time I’ve been the ONLY year-round presence educating the Broadway community about Elsie Fest? Changing these things would be good for them, but they don’t seem to want to change.

But I didn’t this project for them. I did it for you–for all the people who thanked me because they couldn’t find answers to basic questions about Elsie Fest until they happened upon my FAQ. And I did it because it was fun. I made a lot of friends over the past two years. I pushed myself into a space that was uncomfortable for me (I’m naturally shy) and I like being that person–the helpful, friendly person who knows a lot about Broadway–that I play on the podcast. Not that it’s a character. It’s an aspirational version of myself. But I always said that I would do it as long as it was fun, and when it wasn’t fun anymore I’d stop.

I’m stopping some things. As I said in my tweet, I have some obligations over the next two weeks that will make it hard to keep up my former responsibilities anyway, so I’m going to use that time to decide which parts of this “job” I enjoy and want to continue, and which parts I don’t enjoy. I’ll come up with a new shape for my fandom that will allow me to do what I enjoy, keep up with my friends, and be helpful to new fans who want a friendly person to latch onto, without making me feel stressed out. And then I’ll make my plans public and make new commitments that I can stand by.

Thanks to everyone who sent a friendly tweet. I really appreciated it. Some of you are friends I’ve met IRL and who I communicate with often. You know what you mean to me already. Others are followers who let me know I mean something to them, and it meant a lot to know that you’re out there. I promise I’m not going away completely. I’ll probably even be around this week (though not reliably, as I said). Next week, I’m hoping to go completely offline for the very good reason that I’ll be on vacation with my family.

And then I’ll let you know.

Thanks for listening, make more art, and I’ll be back in two weeks,

Rachel

PS: In the mean time, if/when there is Elsie news, this blog will be kept up.

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38: Sounds from the Homework Release Party

Hear the sounds from my Trusty Correspondent Heidi’s trip to LA for the Homework Release Party.

Heidi with Darren Criss

Heidi with some guy she met in an alley.

Hear the episode here: https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ibjdi-84fbc5

Here’s the Computer Games set from Wednesday, December 13:

And here’s the live stream from the Homework show:

If you love Heidi’s t-shirt, you can buy one here:

If you want the shirt Heidi gave Darren on my behalf (that Chuck called “awesome”) you can get one here:

And if you want to celebrate your love of Homework, I made this shirt too:

And there are a bunch of other things available in my shop:

You can donate to The Criss Project here.
And if you do, let me know on Twitter and be entered to win an Elsie Fest 2017 package.
Review the podcast on iTunes to be entered to win a Darren Criss t-shirt.

Coming Monday, February 12: Sounds of Broadwaycon

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

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Elsie Fest weekend.

Kristine showed up late on Friday. She brought take-out from Panera, so we sat at the dining room table while she ate and we went over our plans. It’s the first time Kristine stayed at my house and we didn’t get to watch an episode of Glee together, but there was too much to do.

Saturday morning we traveled into NYC to meet up with a bunch of Twitter friends for a Broadway Up Close tour. Kristine and I had both completed the Act I and Act III tours IMG_0002previously, so we did Act II and finally got to sign the Gypsy Shirt and become members of the BUC Gypsy Club. On the way to the tour, we stopped at Theater Circle and picked up some Lights of Broadway cards. I got some good ones for trading. Kristine is my lucky charm with LOB cards. Last time, I got TWO super-rares!

After the tour, we went out for a casual lunch and then walked to the New York Public Library, where some folks went on a tour, but Kristine and I wandered up to the reading room to see where all the movies get made, then sat on a bench to enjoy the air conditioning and free wifi, she on her phone madly updating @DarrenArmy, me on mine updating @Elsiepod. It’s good when we do it together because we can compare notes and make sure neither of us missed anything important. We also like to debate the ethics of re-posting certain things, and which posts fall under her mandate or mine. (Though around Elsie time, our agendas are pretty well aligned.)IMG_0008

Then I was fortunate that Kristine had a hotel room and said I could come relax for the afternoon. According to my Fitbit, we walked over 20k steps on Saturday. If I hadn’t had that hour or two of quiet to sit and relax, I don’t know how I would have made it through the weekend. I met her roommate Kerin, who is pretty awesome, and we got to know each other while Kristine kept up with @DarrenArmy.

I would be remiss to not tell you that all this leisure time during the busiest Twitter weekend of my year was enabled by JoAnna, who did an awesome job of keeping up my Twitter all weekend so that I could enjoy all these fun events, especially Elsie Fest itself. After talking to JoAnna about how much it means to folks who can’t come to NY to have all the links available, I couldn’t in good conscience leave my Twitter unattended while I was at Elsie Fest, but I had so many things to do I couldn’t handle it all myself. Thanks millions, JoAnna!!!

After a long walk across town, we had dinner at Five Napkin Burger (their tuna burger is one of those meals I can’t stop thinking about.) And then we went to see Prince of Broadway, which is so much fun, you shouldn’t miss it if you love musicals. Just hit after hit, and of course you have the constant experience of saying to yourself, “He produced this, too?!” The cast is incredible.

My Sunday is pretty well described on this week’s podcast episode. Check it out for stories, interviews, and music from Elsie Fest 2017! https://elsiecast.podbean.com/e/29-sounds-of-elsie-fest-2017/

And here’s a gallery of some of my interviewees at their meet and greets:

Doreen

Doreen with Jeremy

Ena

Isn’t Ena the cutest?!

Diane

Diane from Northern Ireland

Marcia

Marcia and Darren remembering Marsha of the Darren Criss Army, who designed Marcia’s shirt


Coming up on the podcast:

October 23: All Things Broadway

November 6: Jeremyjordan.com

November 20: Jenna Ushkowitz

 

28: First anniversary feat. Darren Criss Army

Looking for the Elsie Fest FAQ? It’s here.


It’s my podcast-adversary!

Okay, technically, my podcast started on October 8th, but I’m a little bit busy that day going to the awesome party Darren Criss, Ricky Rollins, and Jordan Roth are throwing for me in Central Park, so I used my last podcast of my first season to celebrate instead.

My Broadway Bestie, Kristine from the Darren Criss Army, came back to help me celebrate. We reminisced about the year gone by–for Elsie Cast and for Darren Criss–and made some plans for going to Elsie Fest together (with some of our Twitter friends).

You can listen here: https://elsiecast.podbean.com/e/28-first-anniversary-feat-darren-criss-army/

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Kristine and I went out for fancy donuts before our Broadway Up Close tour.

You’ll hear us talk about what a great time we had on our Broadway Up Close walking tours, and we’re excited to go on the final tour of the series so we can sign Tim’s t-shirt.

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Kristine and I will get to sign the t-shirt when we go on our next tour!

And we talk about our plans for Elsie Fest, and how you can find us. I’ll be doing interviews all day, both outside the venue with folks waiting on line, and inside (if I can) in between sets and whenever it makes sense to do so.

I’ll also be taking down names and email addresses of anyone who’d like to come on the podcast. It is a fan podcast, after all–I’m always looking for Elsie Fans to interview!

So come find us on my yellow blankets and pick up a sticker and let me know your favorite thing about Elsie Fest!

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We’ll be the ones sitting on these blankets. I made them myself!

Thank you to everyone who made this year possible, especially my listeners, who give me a reason to find all the Broadway nerds and interview them! Tell a friend about Elsie Cast so this whole enterprise can keep growing.


Coming up on the podcast:

October 9: Sounds of Elsie Fest

October 23: All Things Broadway on Elsie Fest ’17

November 6: Jen from Jeremy-Jordan.com