For those not familiar, Supernatural is a CW network TV show that is about to enter its 12th season. It basically tells the story of two brothers who were raised to be “hunters” by their Dad after their Mom was killed by a demon when they were very young. They travel the US in their 1967 Chevy Impala listening to classic rock while hunting demons, monsters and helping stop various bad guys, demons, or angels intent on bringing about the end of the world.
Supernatural Conventions are a weekend long event that pulls together about a 10-13 various cast members present and past (some have only appeared in a few episodes) to appear onstage for 1 hour Q&A sessions with the audience. There are also autograph signings and photo opportunities with single and combined sets of actors. On Friday there is a free karaoke event attended by the some of the actors and they’ve recently added a Saturday rock concert by the band Louden Swain (headlined by Rob Benedict, an actor that’s been in the show a handful of times) where some of the guests also participate. The convention is MC’d by Richard Speight Jr who was a guest star on the show, and Louden Swain plays intro and outro music for all the guest panels.
First, my opinion of the harsh reality of these conventions. These events are run by a US company and all prices are in US dollars. Gold tickets (that include a good reserved seat and a number of autographs), extra autographs and photo ops are ridiculously, embarrassingly expensive – in a “glad I don’t have kids to put through college” kind of way. There is a pretty consistent group of actors who attend these conventions, so each year there may only be a few new faces if you attend the same city year to year. Total official Q&A time for the entire weekend is roughly 10-12 hours of content (the rest is quizzes, auctions, autograph signings, costume contests, photo ops etc).During the Q&A’s I often find myself very uncomfortable with some of the audience questions that seem inappropriate or way too personal for this type of venue. You spend an incredible amount of time simply waiting around in lines for autographs or pictures. Due to the fact you are waiting so much, you often don’t have the ability to go and get food or drink during the breaks. Finally, the vendors room is tiny with only limited official merchandise – no fan made merchandise is allowed.
So with all that being said, why in the hell would I go back after the first time? The simple answer is that I have a great time. I spend 3 days laughing my head off and having a blast. I’ve had amazing luck with seatmates and spent a lot of time chatting. The chemistry onstage between Richard Speight Jr and Rob Benedict alone is worth the price of admission. They have a great time and so do we. Richard Speight Jr is renowned for his “Friday People” speech where he congratulates everyone who shows up for the full three days, and then disparages Saturday people and finally the “barely trying” Sunday only attending people. It’s a very funny bit that has me in tears every time. He also works well with the other guests and as they enter and leave the stage. It is obvious that all the actors appreciate this direct time they have with fans and also like each other (the core group does 15-20 events per year together, and this has led to a lot of bonding, teasing, fun and friendships which is apparent on stage). The karaoke night and Saturday concert simply expands on this experience.
So I guess, you folks would eventually like to see some photos in this photo blog? These were taken from the Toronto Convention Oct 2015 and I think sum up what I’ve been trying to say ( top of the page photo credit to Chris Schmelke – Creation photographer extraordinaire – 2012).
As mentioned earlier, Richard Speight Jr and Rob Benedict now shepherd the entire convention weekend with MC duties, and heading the band respectively. Their friendship and back and forth moments really frame the entire experience.
One of the newer events in the past few years is the Saturday Night concert which is headlined by Rob Benedict and his band Louden Swain, but also provides the other guests a chance to shine. Mark Sheppard rocks it out on the drums and others play instruments or let it rip vocally. Some of the guests had not sung or played instruments publicly before these concerts. To add another layer to this concert, it’s important to know that Rob Benedict suffered a stroke at the Toronto Convention a few years ago. It was his friends at the concert who noticed something was wrong and got him to an emergency room in time. Luckily, he has completely recovered, but they now end every concert with all the guests, the band and the audience singing a rousing rendition of “With a Little Help from My Friends”. Needless to say, there is not a dry eye in the house afterwards.
The main draw of the weekend is certainly the two leads, who after working together for 11 years really seem like brothers outside of the show as well as on. They have a natural chemistry together which explains the show’s longevity. We may have come for the monsters, but we stayed for family.
Finally, what really makes this event worthwhile is the fun that the actors have on stage, and that never gets old.
To wrap things up, I guess the question is would I go to a 5th convention? The answer to that is that I would love to attend one. The convention has gotten more and more expensive and I’m finding it really hard to justify the cost – so I’m not attending this year for sure. However, I couldn’t give it up completely so I will be attending the free karaoke night and the Saturday Concert which are both available to non-attendees. I’ll be convention-adjacent this year and that will have to do… but boy, I will miss Richard’s “Friday people” opener…
Well folks, that’s it for now. My next post takes us to BC… stayed tuned for lots of trees.