BWW Exclusive: A First Hand Account of Elsie Fest 2016!
The second annual Elsie Fest, a one-day outdoor music festival celebrating stars and songs from the stage and screen, took place yesterday, Monday, September 5th at the Ford Amphitheater at the Coney Island Boardwalk.
As a long time lover of both show tunes and festivals, I made sure I was able to make it out to Coney Island to experience the festival first hand, not only as member of BroadwayWorld, but as a fan.
So, for those of you who couldn't make it, here's my first hand experience on this year's Elsie Fest, from a perspective of a fellow Broadway Fan. Check it out, below!
Before we start things off, I have to say that this year's festival was definitely an improvement from last year's, and I'm not even talking about the musical acts. First thing's first, there were actual chairs to sit in. That might sound like a sort of nit-picky thing to say, but last year your choices were either standing or sitting on hard concrete, which made the many hours go by a lot slower and put a damper on the experience, especially since you couldn't leave the venue. If you wanted a seat, you had to pay VIP prices, and as a senior in college, I didn't have that money to spend. This year, every section came with a seat, an area to walk around and a roof on top of our heads.
Plus, the whole food situation from last year where the vendors actually ran out of food wasn't even an issue this year. Sure, I would have personally appreciated more drink options and the prices were a bit steep, but what could you say? It was a concert venue.
And, though this might be a personal favorite of mine, there were Snapchat geotags, which my friends and I all had so much fun with.
Now, onto some highlights of the festival's performances.
All of the photos are by Vladislav Grach, and can be found on the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk's Facebook page.
Titus Burgess is a force of nature. This man really knows how to put his personality into his performance, stating, "Everyone take out your phones. The more pictures the higher I sing." He truly dazzled the audience, and his rendition of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" was filled with such charm and charisma that I just sat in awe watching him perform. He was the second act of the night, but, If Darren Criss wasn't already ending the night, he would have been the perfect choice for a closer.
My friends and I sadly made the mistake of getting food when Corey Cott performed, which we all later regretted. His set list was a range of both tear jerkers and sing a longs, opening with the theme song to Pokemon which was truly a delight. Cott's voice was just music to my ears.
What else could I say about Cynthia Erivo that hasn't already been said? I mean, she was the only performer to get a standing ovation before she even opened her mouth, so that itself should speak volumes.
She graced us with her presence twice during the festival. The first, she sang the Act 1 closer from the upcoming DEAR EVAN HANSEN, in which, according to Pasek and Paul, she only agreed to do if she had a choir to back her. Her second appearance came with Jason Robert Brown, where she sang "I Can Do Better Than That," one of my personal favorites from THE LAST FIVE YEARS, which you can actually watch, here!
Lena Hall is truly a punk princess come to life. Her set was a bit different than the other Broadway stars, but she did help the festival tone shift into a full blown concert, especially after the sun went down. She owned every note that came out of her mouth, and her stage presence was intimidating in all of the best ways. To put it frank, after she finished, my friends quipped how they felt like they just drank five cups up coffee.
Darren Criss, one of the creators behind the festival, ended the night on a high note. What can i say? The just man emits so much charm, and each audience remember gladly eats it up. His set was the most diverse of the bunch, and that, combined with high high energy performance style, really brought the house down. Ending a Broadway festival on Nirvana's "Smell's like Teen Spirit" is something only he could pull off.
Though I didn't name every single act that performed throughout, they were all still amazing. Truly no one delivered a bad set, but these were just my personal favorites, and what I remembered the most after a long day of performances.
Overall, the day was truly a blast, and I will definitely be buying my ticket come this time next year, especially if they end up at the same venue again.