Special to the San Francisco Examiner, January 29, 2012
By Moira Sullivan
|Lucy Lawless: Xena Convention 2012, Burbank.|
The final day for the final journey turned out to be the final day before the next “final” convention. After photo ops and autographs, a panel of "Amazons" commanded the stage to reminisce about the show: Jennifer Sky and Sheeri Rappaport. Also scheduled was Tsianina Joelson (Varia) who was unable to attend because of her baby.
One of the events at a Xena convention one shouldn't miss is a play based on a time honored character, and performed by Michael Hurst and Jennifer Ward-Lealand - The Widow Twanky. Hurst portrays an elderly diva who has been married countless times and was once a dance teacher. Hurst first performed the character on Hercules: The Legendary Journey.
The director of episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules, Michael Levine, explained the differences in working with television in the US and New Zealand and some memorable scenes from the Xena series.
An homage to Kevin Smith (Ares) was a moving tribute made to the late New Zealand actor (1963-2002). Clips from previous conventions were shown where the actor sang covers by Elvis, Tom Jones, and Billy Idol. Trivia questions for the audience included which was the first weapon Ares gave to Xena. According to the "Creation" emcee, the musical theatre episode of The Bitter Suite (12th episode of Season 3)on Xena set the stage for musicals on television programs such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer who owe their lineage to the episode. * The tribute ended with a clip of Kevin Smith singing "In the Midnight Hour" from the 2000 convention in New York.
Last to command the stage for the weekend were the much anticipated Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor. O’Connor came out first and took questions from the audience from both sides of the stage. She shared personal stories about her new triumphs since the series – such as her son chosen to become a school safety ambassador out of 30 children at his school.
|Renee O'Connor, Xena Convention 2012|
Lucy Lawless sporting red hair for her latest character Lucretia in Spartacus proved to be more energetic than recent conventions and autographed a dog collar for a "working" canine, sang "Happy Birthday" to a fan, and read from Katherine Fugate's script from the previous day about the "really final" episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. As it goes, finally, Xena proposes to Gabrielle and throws her over with a big kiss. The audience exploded at a wish fulfillment that has always been more or less implied in the six season series by their two favorite heroines. Fugate is behind much of this subtext.
It is dificult to objectively report on the appearance of these two actors since for most in the audience, the real Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor are Xena and Gabrielle. Questions such as "would you ever do a drag king show?" put to Lawless were not in her personal orbit. There is a personal responsibility to fans that a star involuntarily inherits, since for many devotees, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred. Sobbing attendees shared about their fathers or mothers who died, and how much the two meant to them in getting through various personal ordeals.
However, it is clear that "stars" are a part of the people who make them larger than life, and is a mutually beneficial relationship. Any contact with stars via photo ops, autographs, pictures or questions allows fans the opportunity to take a piece of themselves home. For many of these fans, Xena:Warrior Princess is a living legend with ample opportunities to revisit the actual series, enlarge upon them with fan fiction, meet with a community of devotees who attend conventions or engage in community forums such as The Xena Online Forum, fan fiction about the series and AUXIP - Australian Xena Information Page.
Xena and Gabrielle live!
 Lyrics by Joseph LoDuca, Pamela Phillips Oland, Dennis Spiegel ; Musical Staging by Jeff Calhoun;Supervising Music Editor: Philip Tallman