Tarra Matthews Content Editor
Inspired by and listening to the AVPSY soundtrack on repeat since the announcement that we’d finally get to see the show for the first time since LeakyCon last year, I want to share my Starkid feelings.
I found AVPM on YouTube shortly after it was posted completely by accident. I remember being slightly appalled by the idea of an HP parody but I gave it a try and it was clear very quickly that this group was making fun out of admiration, not trying to be rude. To do what they did took love of the franchise, not to mention talent. I remember loving every minute of watching it after I got over myself and before I knew it, it was over, hours passed and it felt like minutes, I was hooked.
Then they released a sequel and it was just as good as the first, they threw in ‘new’ characters, new songs and new references. They added to their first production and they did it in a creative way that we really didn’t expect. Starkidpotter was an amazing ensemble but it did have its (reluctant) stand out members.
No one can deny the talent that Darren Criss possesses. But I can’t let his achievements overshadow those of the rest of the members, and he doesn’t either. I remember the first time I saw him live, NYC, June 15th, 2011 at Irving Plaza. I took my mother, both to ease her mind of my fandom ways & because I told her she had to see him live to understand. It took her about 2 songs and a mini Darren speech for her to completely change her tune. After the concert was over she came up to me and she said understood; that Darren was genuine and took amazing care of those around him, if you were his friend you would never have to feel slighted because Darren would make sure you got the recognition you deserved. She finally got it.
Then came Starship, the first original Starkid musical and that was their way to show their world that they were for real. Yes we did two parodies but that’s not all we can do, we studied this, we learned this, we can do this. The company may have moved to Chicago and set up a base but based on the response to Starship I’m pretty sure they could base the company off a small Atlantic island in the southern hemisphere and people would make the journey. Starship put the acting talents of Joey Richter and Lauren Lopez front and centre and gave us Brant Cox and it’s just amazing. The setting may have changed but the Starkids stayed true to their characters, the ‘inappropriate’ jokes and nerd references were there, the amazing musical theatre songs (written by Darren while filming Glee!) the production value, well it increased!
These stage opportunites weren’t enough for the Starkids though, they wanted to get out and meet their fans face to face and thank them in the best way they knew how, singing, dancing, laughing and being completely crazy. Brian Holden was apt to call the SPACE tour an experience, not just a concert. I remember being at the meet and greet line for SPACE and there was a girl near me in line and she was just floored to be meeting these people. They don’t see themselves as special or famous so when people get all emotional around them sometimes you can see them get emotional too. They are so touched that they get to affect people in such a positive way. They aren’t just these crazy U Mich kids anymore, they’re these ‘badass’ hooligan performers.
And it doesn’t even matter if you get to see a large group of Starkids perform together or just one or two. Getting to see just a couple at a time like a special present. Getting to see Dylan Saunders sing it out with Watsky, Joe Moses at his Showses, Joey on Jesse, TalkFine, Brant Cox perform with Fred For Nothing, I could go on and on. Starkid works because it is a web of talent, a supportive web that attracts all the musical theatre nerds, Harry Potter nerds and just plain nerd nerds around it because it makes us feel like we all belong. We can take solace in this cast of characters and the people behind them. Many of us found the BEST group of friends we’ve ever had, from around the world in most cases, thanks to our mutual love and respect for these ‘kids.’ We don’t get to see each other often, mostly just at fandom events, but each time we DO get to meet up it’s like we just each saw each other yesterday, not months ago! Thank you Internet for that. Being a fan and having friends is forever changed. Now when I travel and say to the security guy at the airport “Yeah I’m going to meet up with my Internet friends,” sure he may look at me like I’m totally crazy but, get over it buddy, that just the way it is these days, the internet isn’t JUST a ‘scary place’ it is a place where you feel part of a family.
So I guess I can’t ignore this little AVPSY/LeakyCon experience any longer. I was at LeakyCon 2012 and I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I hadn’t been there. I quickly understood why Dylan was so excited when fans were telling him on the Watsky tour we were coming to the con (before the AVPSY bomb was dropped). The whole weekend, there was this air of nervousness/anticipation/excitement in the air at the hotel. You felt it in the other fans around, you felt it in the Leaky staff, you felt it from the Starkids you passed rushing around in the hall, even in the other special guests who were there. A Very Potter Senior Year was upon us, something we had waiting years for, and there was nothing we could do to stop it. AVPSY was a run away train barreling toward a wall of fans at full speed. I remember the night before the show, I was sitting around all night with a group of friends, and we couldn’t sleep, no way no how. We laughed, there were tears and mostly I just remember each of us just blubbering on about how PROUD we were of the Starkids already, like they were our friends too, which is how they make all the fans feel like anyway so it fits, it isn’t weird to say that you are proud of Starkid like they were your best friend from Kindergarten.
And then it was AVPSY performance day; and I feel like the whole thing was an out of body experience I was there, I know I was, I have the images of the whole thing in my head. But at the same time I felt like it was a dream; Starkid wasn’t actually performing this whole thing for us were they? They aren’t making these references to inside jokes and they weren’t dream casting these actors into the roles we’ve been talking about since AVPS were they? And then to see Darren Criss ‘come home’ to being Harry Freakin’ Potter, looking different but still fitting his ‘senior year at Hogwarts’ role. It was all a little too much to handle. Starkid did this AMAZING job of incorporating all the ‘generations’ of Starkids together into a production. It wasn’t seamless, HELL I think we would have been upset if the thing off without a hitch, it wouldn’t have been a true Starkid production.
The whole production had us nostalgic and crying and proud and all these other emotions that I couldn’t articulate but you just had to FEEL in the room, embrace them. At the end of show I just turned to my friend next to me and we hugged it out (I’m pretty sure, it was a blur really) but I remember that I wasn’t SAD it was over, far from it. I was proud and excited to see what will happen next for Team Starkid. Without AVPSY I don’t think that they would have been able to move past the Harry Potter chapter of their lives and on to what’s next for them; AVPSY isn’t a story ending, it is a chapter ending. It is their launch pad to get MORE creative, explore MORE avenues/parodies/opportunities, just growing and growing and growing. The best part is that we get to join them on this journey. They took us Back To Hogwarts for the final time, now I hand them the keys to the flying car to take us wherever they want to plan on heading next, and you guys are invited along too.