A Reception Fit for a Queen: Regal Con 2015
by Zach Van Norman
Two concerts. Four Q&A’s. Four parties. Seven panels. Eleven guests. Hundreds of attendees.
This was Regal Con 2015.
A convention created by Roxy Nazari and her team at REN Entertainment, Regal Con 2015 was geared towards ABC’s hit television series Once Upon A Time. And while some of the attending guests have made appearances at other conventions around the country, Regal Con presented a unique opportunity for die-hard Oncers to connect with actors on their favorite show in a more intimate setting.
It all began on Friday morning as attendees arrived at registration to collect their ticket packages, though events weren’t scheduled to begin until the afternoon. I was unable to attend the first panel due to interviews with guests, but was offered the hosting spot for the trivia game, which became a combination of in-depth discussion of Once and a knowledge game about the show; winners were rewarded with autograph tickets. It was a blast hosting the game and guiding a conversation about the show. (Special thanks to Roxy for giving me the opportunity.) The trivia contest was followed by a panel reviewing cosplay, which included an incredible Maleficent costume based on the character’s live-action film appearance. Afterwards were photo ops and autograph sessions, which occupied a few hours of the afternoon.
The evening’s events concluded with a concert from 45 Spacer, a band led by members Jack and Patrick Di Blasio whose music created a rock dance party which could be heard from the lobby (well done, guys!) and a cocktail party attended by Lee Arenberg, Beverley Elliott, Faustino Di Bauda, Gil McKinney, Michael Coleman and David Anders.
Saturday morning arrived and the convention was alive with activity: the Queen had entered the building. After another photo session, Lana Parrilla took the stage for a panel moderated by the MC of the weekend, Joshua Reid-Davis. She offered insights into Regina’s character, her choice of Favorite Person to Kiss (it’s Henry), on-set anecdotes and kind words of support for her legions of fans. She was down-to-earth, warm and caring, and full of love for everyone in attendance at the convention.
While the convention had many high points and great moments, it was not without complications. Scheduling issues pushed back the private audience with star Lana Parrilla at the Queen’s Reception, which further delayed the VIP Banquet Dinner and left attendees slightly confused. However, Roxy and her team were able to overcome the problems with the assistance of convention consultant Laurie Mahoney, a behind-the-scenes rock star who provided invaluable assistance throughout the weekend to ensure the event ran smoothly.
Delayed though it was, the Queen’s Reception was a royal opportunity to converse with Lana Parrilla and a crowd of loyal Evil Regals gathered around her as she regaled them with tales from her crypt. Banquet attendees were granted the opportunity to dine with the actor of their choice (space permitting) and the room was alive with the sounds of laughter and vigorous conversation over plates of chicken marsala, four-cheese ravioli and an array of delicious desserts. Immediately after the banquet, guests moved to the hall next door for the Happily Ever After Ball, which brought many Oncers to the dance floor (not just Oncers, either: Beverley Elliott, Eion Bailey, and Sean Maguire were all cutting a rug, while Gil McKinney led a dance crew until the end of the evening) and which was highlighted by a costume contest. There were several Evil Queens, Maid Marian, Emma Swan, a Blue Fairy and even Jiminy Cricket. It was truly an enchanted evening.
Sunday began with more photo ops, autograph sessions and panels, though I was unable to attend the panel with Emilie, Rebecca Mader and Sean Maguire due to scheduling conflicts, but I arrived for the last few minutes and Rebecca Mader’s hilarious story of accidentally wearing home some of Zelena’s bras and having to return them to the costume department!
The following panel was once again hosted by Joshua Reid-Davis and attended by Faustino Di Bauda, Gil McKinney, Beverley Elliott and Michael Coleman. At one point the panel took a musical turn as Gil belted out “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, followed up by Beverley’s rendition of “I’m Mad At Myself” from her one-woman show Didn’t See That Coming: Unexpected Blessings and Uncomfortable Epiphanies. The panelists spoke highly of their fans and all the support they’ve received, offering words of encouragement in return and ending the panel by giving us all The Feels.
After a sound check, 45 Spacer rocked the house with their second concert of the weekend, delighting their fans and family alike. (Lana Parrilla was in attendance and snapping pictures from all angles, showing her support for her family. It was adorbs.) Finally, it was time for the season finale of Once Upon A Time. Michael Coleman, Faustino Di Bauda and Beverley Elliott sat in the audience as we all watched the finale together, and I was comforted by the fact that I am not alone when I yell at the television and jump out of my seat: there were at least 100 other people doing the same thing throughout the episode. (“Do it!” and “Tell him!” were two quite popular phrases throughout the viewing.) OutlawQueen drew a particularly passionate response, as did Henry and his successfully heroic attempt to save his family. When it was over, and the dagger had fallen (EMMA!!!!), it was time to depart. Goodbyes were said, Facebook friendships were made and Twitter handles were followed, and then it was over. As quickly as it had arrived, it departed.
All in all, it was a great weekend and a successful convention. Every attendee I spoke with enjoyed themselves immensely, expressing regret that it was only a three-day event but also hopeful and excited for Regal Con 2016. (I echo that sentiment: this totally needs to happen again!) Sincere gratitude and appreciation to Roxy Nazari, Lauryn Stewart, Liz Schleder, Leah Nelson, Max Erler and all the other volunteers and staff for creating such a wonderful event, as well as to Joshua Reid-Davis for your support and a great job as Master of Ceremonies, Laurie Mahoney for your dedication and assistance, Autumn Nierode for your support, assistance and epic dwarf lip-sync, Chelsea Schwartz and High Voltage Magazine for coordinating press events (thanks again for the button!), and all the cast members for attending and giving Once Upon A Fan their time for interviews. It was an experience I won’t soon forget and I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of it. Here’s to Regal Con 2016!
Full coverage of Regal Con 2015 can be found on our Facebook page “Once Upon A Time Fans” and Twitter account @OnceUponAFan. You can also hear my recap of the event on the Once Upon A Fan Podcast (BlogTalkRadio.com/OnceUponAFans).