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,


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


Episode 48: #SaveRise

An episode in which two embittered people are sad that Rise is over. And also that we can’t go see #LMDCtour.

Here’s the episode:

And here’s where to sign the petition to save Rise:

And here’s where to buy Elsie Cast stuff:

TeePublic Review (Guest post by DJ Lilly)

Seven days. One week. That’s all the time it took to get my nifty new “He’s weird but he He's weird shirtsure is happy about it” Darren Criss shirt produced by Elsie Cast featuring brilliant artwork by @JesslovesDarren! This is my first experience with TeePublic, but it certainly bodes well for my future online t-shirt orders.

I have a…thing for message shirts. I allow myself to have only a certain amount (established many years ago after I realized I had a RIDICULOUS number of them which is embarrassing to even say out loud) so I have to be somewhat discerning in buying them, but I just love walking around with something I believe in or like visible for everyone to see. No surprise, a lot of mine are library-related, and many reflect my life philosophies, and the rest…well, the rest have something to do with Darren Criss.

shirt collectionI knew I had a LOT of Darren Criss shirts, but I just now found out that I have ten of those (including the new one).  This means a full third of my NSFW wardrobe says something about Mr. Criss or some project he’s involved with. I also know what you’re thinking. WHY do I need TEN shirts about Darren?

The logical answer, and the one that I am fully aware of, is that no one NEEDS ten shirts about one person. But, MY answer is that I respect, enjoy, admire and flat-out adore Darren (in a non-stalker way), so why shouldn’t I have as many shirts about him that I can find that reflect the amazing scope of his talent, his unique view of the world, and his quirky sense of humor like this new one does?

For those more interested in the logistics: I got an email two days after I ordered it saying they’d shipped it, then it arrived five days later which is truly amazing. The discounted price was great, of course, although it looks like their regular prices including shipping aren’t bad. The shirt is comfortable (not scratchy like some) and the sizing is accurate. If I had to come up with a negative, it’s that the choice of colors in the plus sizes are limited, but that’s not unusual…(sorry, got distracted by an earworm there for a second) and there was still enough of a variety to choose from.

So, go forth and shop! You’ll support Elsie Cast’s fabulous efforts to spread art around the world AND you’ll get a fabulous shirt or sticker or some other fun tidbit for yourself.

Thanks to DJ Lilly for writing this guest post! You can follow DJ on twitter at @wemeow2 (a must-follow for Klaine fans).

For official Darren Criss & Elsie Fest merch, check out our friends at Ann Arbor Tees. More about Ann Arbor Tees in Episode 44.

For Elsie Cast merch, click here:

Elsie Cast Shop

She’s here!!!

Some time last winter, I noticed that Elsie Fest was not getting the kind of attention from Darren Criss that it had the year before. Two years ago, as now, Darren would mention Elsie Fest occasionally in an interview. Last year: nothing. Although we sometimes saw tweets from the official Elsie Fest twitter (@ElsieFest), there was basically no mention publicly about Elsie Fest from roughly November of 2016 until Ricky Rollins tweeted that they were working on it in I believe June of 2017. (These are all my perceptions. I’d like to make this good reporting and go find all the tweets and interviews I’m talking about, but that’s not realistically happening. If you remember something differently, please let me know.)

I got frustrated and scared, especially since I had just started this podcast enterprise and if Elsie Fest stopped happening, I didn’t know what I would do about it.

But I don’t believe in being a pest to celebrities. Darren, Ricky, and Jordan (Roth, the third producer of Elsie Fest) don’t owe us an Elsie Fest. I just wish they’d communicate more. So I started tweeting using the hashtag #LittleOrphanElsie whenever I felt like Elsie Fest was being neglected.

Someday, I hope, more people will pick up the hashtag and make it more visible. In any case, it makes me feel a bit better. It amuses me. And I hope that when any of the producers of Elsie Fest see it, they take it in the intended spirit. It’s a nudge. A gentle nudge with a sense of humor hoping that they’ll take notice and be more communicative. Because we don’t know what’s going on in their heads and although I firmly believe at this point that they think we know for sure there will be another Elsie Fest, we don’t know that for sure. We need information. And people need dates so that they can ask for vacation days, plan travel, and save up.

It occurred to me at some point that it would be great to make Little Orphan Elsie t-shirts. I would love it if people started showing up at Darren’s events with a clever reminder that Elsie is something we think about (and would like to hear about) all year long. It would be a way to start a conversation with him about what’s going on with Elsie Fest.

There were just two problems.

  1. I can’t draw.
  2. I had no idea what Little Orphan Elsie would look like.

Obviously, she would need to be some combination of Little Orphan Annie and Elsie Fest, but what does Elsie Fest look like in human form?

Well, last week, I started chatting on Twitter with someone named @JesslovesDarren, and she offered to make me some art for a t-shirt I wanted to make based on something Darren had said in an interview.

Did you hear that right at the end there?

I know this guy. He’s weird. And he sure is happy about it.

It struck me that this should be on a t-shirt. And Jess helped me make it. I realize now that I screwed up the quote somewhere along the way, and the t-shirt doesn’t have it exactly right. But it’s a pretty cool t-shirt:


So I asked Jess if she’d try and make me a picture of Little Orphan Elsie that I could use to put my long-dreamed-of plan into motion, and she agreed. As I said, I had no idea what Little Orphan Elsie might look like, beyond some combination of Annie and Elsie Fest. And this is what we came up with.

She’s beautiful. She’s brilliant. And she needs to get in Darren’s face. I want him to laugh. I want his mind to be blown that people went to the trouble of creating such a thing. I want him to think the whole thin is ridiculous (because it is). And hopefully it will help him to understand that we need more communication. Or at least he’ll answer your questions about Elsie Fest 2018 and you can report back to me and I’ll tell everyone.

I would really like to have the first person who gets this in Darren’s line of sight to come on the podcast, too, to tell us about his reaction. I suspect it will be hilarious. So please, RT the image, purchase the image (stickers are just $2.50, tee-shirts are $20), wear it/bring it to LMDCtour shows or to Tramp Stamp Granny’s or wherever you know you’ll see Darren. In my dreams, Little Orphan Elsie will be everywhere he goes, until Elsie Fest gets the attention she deserves. Go out and make it happen people.

Here she is. Click here to purchase.