SO MUCH TALENT OMG. I’m gonna attempt to summarize the evening but I also have a horrible memory and was flailing all over the place, so bear with me. Also, I haven’t checked my dash yet, so a lot of this will probably be things people have already posted about. Regardless…
So after hearing about the event from that Tumblr post that was floating around (thanks everyone who re-blogged that, btw!), me and my friend Megan headed over and got there just as they were starting to let people in. They gave us a $10 iTunes gift card in a Glee Project sleeve (which many people would later use as an autograph book), and we sat down in the theater, towards the back on the left side. I turned my phone off, but Megan got tons of pictures and videos which she will no doubt share, so check out her blog!
Incidentally, the background music that they were playing was studio versions of all of the songs from the last season of Glee Project. I wonder why those haven’t been released on iTunes? I digress.
Then the lights dimmed and after a brief delay, they rolled their presentation: It was basically a sizzle reel of season 1 of the Glee Project (which I, uh, haven’t watched so most of it was news to me) that focused largely on the Final Four, with a few mentions - but no footage - of what was coming in the second season. It ran about ten or fifteen minutes and was voiced over by Ian, in the same style of the “so here’s what you missed on Glee” recaps (i.e., kind of ridiculous). They also paid special attention to Cameron, the one who quit last season, so there was that.
Then the footage was over, and a very familiar song started - it was Glee’s arrangement of “Sing”! Alex and Sam came out from the back, just like they do in the show all the time, and sang their hearts out. Damian met them up onstage and they did a three-part harmony of the final half of the song. It was glorious; I’m sure there’s footage floating around…
Then they each performed their own brief song - Damian McGinty covered “Beyond the Sea” and it was lovely; Samuel Larson sang the hell out of “Animal”, and then the one and only Darren Criss emerged with his guitar and sang an amazing acoustic version of “Teenage Dream”. (Megan was swooning and so was I.) Alex Newell also did a killer version of “And I Am Telling You”, and it brought the house DOWN. He got more standing ovations than even Darren.
Then David Burtka (!!!) introduced the rest of the panel - Lindsay Pearce, the last contestant (I don’t know why she didn’t perform; maybe she was sick?); Ryan Murphy; Zach Woodlee; Robert Ulrich (casting director for Glee); and Erik White (music video director). What followed was about a half an hour of David Burtka asking them questions: Ryan talked about coming up with both “Glee” and “The Glee Project”; Zach discussed which one was harder to work on (he said Glee has him physically work harder, but The Glee Project gets him more emotional because he falls in love with all of the kids); and the Final Four talked about the transition from TGP to “actual” Glee, working with their idols, cute stories from the Project, etc. Darren also had a remarkable quote that I’ve already posted and that’s probably all over Tumblr by now, when he was asked what advice he gave the kids.
I just want to pause for a second and say how amazingly humble Darren still is (he performed for the PRESIDENT yesterday, for God’s sake), because he said he felt ridiculously unqualified to give these kids advice - they were already amazing, and what they were doing was working, so who was he to advise them on anything? But they persisted, and that’s the quote, the advice he ended up giving: “Be generous, be grateful, work hard, and amazing shit will happen.” Lots of applause for that one, and rightly so. (I kind of want to get a tattoo of that now…)
Anyway, back on track: Ryan also talked about how mad the network was that there ended up being four winners instead of just one. He also pointed out something I’ve noticed: the posters for Season 2 say “ONE will be on Glee”; it’s pretty insistent, and Ryan noted, laughing, that the network’s message for this season is clear: THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE. So that’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
There was lots of other stuff that happened at the Q&A that I’m forgetting, I’ll see if I can find footage somewhere - but anyway, at the end, David Burtka stood up and said “please join me and the cast outside for refreshments”, and everyone was kind of like “WHAT?” and then stampeded for the doors.
Out in the lobby it was super crowded, and the cast and crew slowly made their way out. David Burtka was first; he disappeared early, unfortunately. Ryan and Darren were next. Ryan was able to (slowly) make his way through the fans, but poor Darren got swamped and was only there for a few minutes before security snuck him out back. It seemed like he had really wanted to meet people, too…
Anyway, Megan and I met Ryan Murphy first, and I let Megan do most of the talking for pretty much the whole night, because I am horrible at celebrity encounters - I never know what to say. Here, Megan told Ryan how she was able to start coming out to her family because of the show, which Ryan smiled at; when he turned to me, though, all I could think to say was “Thank you for everything”. And then he got a picture with us and it was cool.
Megan got a picture with Samuel Larsen, and told him about her religious tattoos that are similar to his. (His response was a genuine, “Oh, cool!”) Then we (almost literally) ran into Alex, and seriously, he is such a sweetheart. He said hi super-enthusiastically and asked about our night, and when I told him I’ve played Starships an embarrassing amount of times (which is true), he was thrilled, and playfully demanded to know the exact play count. (“Around 50? 50 this week? 50 just today, right?”)
We wandered around a bit after that. Security kept shepherding the cast around, and we almost always seemed to end up where they would go, often completely on accident. We met Zach Woodlee, who is also a complete sweetheart, and I told him about how I love watching him on the behind-the-scenes stuff and that they should write a part for him on the show. His response was a joking, “Oh nooo!” and he told us about how that’s probably not going to happen because he hates being on camera. (Side note: During the panel Zach kept doing the arms-crossed/wrists-down gesture that the cast makes fun of him for, and it was adorable.) We also got a picture with Robert Ulrich, who genuinely thanked us for coming out, asked us to send him our info, and was generally super-nice!
We figured that that was probably all we could do, so we headed outside. Once we were there, though, we found Damian McGinty! (All I could think to say was “I love your accent!” - again, I am bad at these.) Unfortunately, an old lady who didn’t know how to work an iPhone took our picture and it was all blurry. Ah well. Megan also got me a picture with Lindsay Pierce, who was super sweet as well. (That woman’s smile can light up a room, goodness.) Then we ran into a mutual friend of ours and spent the rest of the night talking to him, as the party slowly winded down.
It was an amazing night, and honestly, I told Megan that I’d been looking for a reason to stay in L.A. - and this might have been it. It was less the fact that we were able to meet famous people, and more the fact that it was so inspiring. Look, I’ll be the first to admit that Glee has a lot of problems - problems that I blindly rage about on Tumblr pretty much all the time - but at the same time, this cast works so goddamned hard, and they’re so grateful to their fans, and they’re genuinely amazing people who look like they’re having the time of their lives. And that’s what I came to Los Angeles for: to work in an industry that I love, and that I’m passionate about. Being a fan of people like the Glee cast is what has me living in L.A., and has me so determined to succeed. And tonight was a solid reminder of that fact.
Plus, I breathed the same air as Darren Criss. So there’s that.