The second edition of the Elsie Fest –now called “The Great Elsie Fest Musical Extravaganza”– was held this Monday, September 5th at the Ford Amphitheatre on Coney Island, New York, with an incredible line-up for people who love theater.
The festival, co-created by Darren Criss, Ricky Rollins, and Jordan Roth, has been described by Criss as a Coachella for Broadway lovers. Elsie Fest was named after a line in the song “Cabaret” from the musical of the same name. In its first edition, held on September 27, 2015, it included performers such as Lea Salonga, Laura Osnes, Leslie Odom Jr. and Aaron Tveit.
“I used to have a girlfriend known as Elsie, with whom I shared four sordid rooms in Chelsea” – Cabaret.
First of all, Tony Award-nominated Megan Hilty opened the festival, with a setlist that included songs from musicals Smash and Wicked –in which she portrayed Glinda from 2005 to 2006- to the famous “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors.
Another epic moment was when Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Tituss Burgess took the stage for an amazing performance including “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid –in which he has portrayed Sebastian with multiple acclamations from the critics.
Furthermore, Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin from the Netflix series Stranger Things made a special appearance with Darren Criss to perform three songs including Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down”.
Julie James was praised for her performance, including Barbra Streisand’s “So Long Dearie”. Corey Cott presented a varied setlist from Justin Bieber to Rent and even included the Pokemon Theme. Todrick Hall also surprised with a Disney medley, and performed his song “Color” along with Darren Criss. Then it was time for Rebel and a Basketcase –a duo conformed by Evan Rachel Wood and Zach Villa- who drove the crowd crazy with their sound.
Pasek and Paul took the stage along with Lindsay Mendez and this year’s Tony winner Cynthia Erivo, giving chills to everyone there. Later, Jason Robert Brown charmed the crowd and also invited Miss Erivo to the stage again, receiving a standing ovation.
In addition, Lena Hall, filled the room with rock performing some themes from David Bowie and Radiohead. Hall also included the song “The Origin of Love” from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, in which she won a Tony Award in 2014 for her role as Yitzhak. She will repeat this role in October and November this year for the National Tour of the play.
Elsie Fest’s co-founder Darren Criss was in charge of the final number for probably, the most claimed act of the night. He opened his set with the first number of Hedwig and the Angry Inch “Tear Me Down”-a little reminder for the audience that he will star on the National Tour along with Lena Hall during the next months-, and of course the song “Cabaret” couldn’t be missing. Anastasia’s original voice, Liz Callaway joined Criss to perform a song from the movie of the same title, and Evan Rachel Wood did as well with the song “Across The Universe” –a song from The Beatles that appears and gives name to a musical film in which she starred in 2007.
Finally, Criss performed Nirvana’s biggest hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, with Ricky Rollins on the drums providing enormous doses of energy for a perfect closing.
In conclusion, Elsie Fest was a paradise for every Broadway fan. Hopefully, we will get more like this next year, we can’t wait to see how many surprises Elsie Fest 2017 will bring!
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