This year’s TorCon was incredibly emotional. For anyone who doesn’t know, Rob Benedict (Chuck) had a stroke during autographs at last year’s con. Rob admitted during his panel this year that he felt nervous coming back to Toronto. But at the same time, he was celebrating how far he has come since fighting for his life one year ago. And his friends at the con felt the same.
Richard Speight and Rob had a running schtick throughout the convention on teasing Rob about the stroke, using humour to help process the feelings. Rich would make a joke and then ask, “Too soon?” Rob would laugh and answer, “For you it’s always too soon!” Watching Rob at the convention, it was hard to believe just how serious his condition was a year ago. He was a whirlwind of motion, confidently handling his position as frontman of Loudan Swain. Here’s a taste of Rob and the band.
Loudan Swain anchored the cabaret on Saturday night, an event new since Vegas con and replacing the cocktail party. I loved the change. I wasn’t a big fan of the speed dating aspect of the cocktail party, since it seemed awkward for both fans and actors. The cabaret, on the other hand, really showcases the guests and many of them seem to be taking the opportunity to stretch themselves and try new things. Gil McKinnon has said the Spn cons have helped him regain his confidence as a singer and boy, does it show! Here’s Gil showing off his golden pipes.
Richard Speight is another guest who’s enjoying showing fans his musical chops – and yes, he does have them! He joined Loudan Swain for some beautiful harmonies. Just lovely.
And Osric Chau did a moving rendition of “Creep” by Radiohead which prompted a standing ovation from the crowd. Osric clearly felt a strong personal connection to the song and conveyed that beautifully. His set was the first of several emotional moments at the cabaret.
There were lots of laughs, too. Misha partnered with a fan with a very special dog called Hero. Hero is a trained therapy dog and one heck of a cosplayer. Check him out as a hellhound!
Misha had worked out a routine with Hero and his owner where Misha would call out a situation and Hero would act out a response. So cute! Here’s the video. Prepare to “Awwww!”
The evening whipped by, as we got to see just how talented and brave our cast is. Mark Sheppard was a marvel on the drums and clearly having a blast. The next day at his panel, he named this cabaret as one of his favourite gigs. And this man has opened for U2. Mark was introduced by none other than Alaina Huffman! Here’s Mark on drums for All the Young Dudes, with Gil and Rich helping Rob with vocals.
Finally, we got to the last Loudan Swain song and Richard came out to close out the show. But he decided to say a few words about Rob first. I was in his meet and greet, and while I won’t give out any specific details, as Creation requests, I will say Richard said nothing about the end of the show was planned in advance and he wasn’t sure at first he should say anything specifically about Rob.
But he felt it was important, because all the actors were feeling emotional about Rob’s incredible recovery. Richard gave a short but heartfelt speech about how special Rob is.
Loudan Swain came back for one last song: With a Little Help From My Friends. All of the guests came back on stage to help Rob with the song and it was magical. Tears were flowing on stage and off, especially when to end the song, one by one everyone touched Rob and then left the stage. I didn’t get the whole song, but here’s a taste.
The cabaret felt like a true bonding event, as everyone shared in the emotions, especially the joy. I saw people crying too hard to get up and leave when the event ended, and I know I found it hard to get to sleep that night.
Which left me very sleep deprived for Sunday! Sunday is always an electric day, and I had photo ops and two meet and greets to try and keep track of. I spent the day alternating between happy grins and anxious excitement as I trusted I could zip from autograph lines to photo ops to meet and greets. And of course, chat to fellow lovely fans in all those lines. The time zipped by as we closely analyzed Demon Dean and whether we saw Dean peeking through.
It all worked, though I will say sometimes I got to a place with zero seconds to spare! I was much more relaxed in my photo ops this year and actually managed to smile and ask for a hug, something I had hoped the actors would intuit from my stunned silence last year. Turns out speech is much more effective!
I also had Jensen’s meet and greet. Fangasm gave a lovely write up on some of what happened, so I’ll just say I love the way Jensen handles his M&G. He gives his complete attention to the person asking the question, and then offers a thoughtful and usually long answer. I had a question prepared about DemonDean, but the first person to ask a question got such a complete exploration of the topic, my question was answered. So I just sat back and enjoyed the time with Jensen. He gave a lovely animated demonstration of stunt fight scenes and an equally animated discussion on his dinner the night before with Jared, during which he was served several unusual dishes. Osric Chau would have been proud, as he advised the audience during his panel on Friday to take chances and try food from different cultures.
Jensen and Jared’s gold panel and main panel were hilarious, as they handled questions from the crowd. During the Gold Panel, one person asked J2 if they would like to have a musical or Shakespearean episode. Can you guess what each one picked?
Jensen told us how he and Jared keep themselves on the same page and don’t let problems build up. These two are so grounded.
The boys’ entrance to the main panel was complete with singing and dancing!
Jensen then fielded a question on awkward dating stories – and acted out a very awkward date indeed! Jared stood in for the young lady in question.
Jared then detailed the hazards of falling asleep first on a plane filled with Supernatural cast. The day before, Misha mentioned he had taken advantage of finding Jared’s credit card unattended to order a lovely glass sculpture in his name. To fully appreciate the story, you need to know the glass sculpture was a dildo!
Then Jared told an adorable story about Thomas , and Jensen told an equally sweet story about JJ. “Awwww” is the only appropriate response. I apologize for the shakiness – my arms were so sore by the end of the day from holding up the camera.
Finally, Jensen and Rob sang the show to a close with a rousing rendition of “(I Don’t Want to Lose) Your Love.”
I then had to scoot off to Richard’s Meet and Greet, which was wonderful. Richard is so down to earth, sweet and genuinely interested in what we think. But imagine how I felt when I later learned Jensen had come out with an acoustic guitar and sang two songs he sings to JJ – sob!
Here’s a YouTube video from someone lucky enough to be there. Jensen was so nervous, he told the crowd to pretend they weren’t there – and then had to remind them they weren’t there when they “awwwed” at the mention of JJ!
All in all, it was a fantastic convention. More than one of the guests said it was the best cabaret so far, and as usual, all the actors delivered onstage. I tweeted from the con that the usual wisdom passed around is to never meet your idols because they will never meet your expectations and you’ll be disappointed. And my response to this wisdom is that anyone who believes it has never been to a Supernatural con.
This is my third time and yet again I found all the actors to be lovely people. The only surprise I get is how incredibly nice they are. Whoever the casting director is on the show, s/he has an eye. From the stars of the show to actors who have only appeared in a couple of episodes, they all seem to delight in sharing the show with us. I also noticed this time how much the male presence at cons is increasing. Women still make up most of the audience, but male fans are by no means rare. Supernatural offers something for everyone!