‘Once Upon a Time’ Chicago Convention Coverage


I attended Creation Entertainment’s first official Once Upon a Time convention this past weekend. Read about it below! *Warning: article may contain spoilers*

ouat cast

Day 1

“What do you think stories are for? These stories? The classics? There’s a reason we all know them. They’re a way for us to deal with our world. A world that doesn’t always make sense.”—Mary Margaret (Snow White)

Once upon a time there was a hotel in Chicago where cosplayers were dressed as your favorite Disney characters from Once Upon a Time. Captain Hook, Emma Swan, Queen Regina, Snow White, Cruella Deville, Rumple. To name a few. Left and right you see a sea of fans all anticipating the events that Creation Entertainment has dutifully worked hard to put together. A full schedule of photo ops, meet and greets, and celebrity panels. Sean Maguire, Lee Arenberg, Sinqua Walls, Eoin Bailey, Gil McKinney and Tony Amendella took the stage on Saturday for panels. Fans asked questions, and the actors made sure to give worthy answers. (Without spoilers of course!) It was a day full of fairy tales and adventure.

Lee Arenberg, our host for the weekend, started the convention with some basic rules. After that, he introduced the first panel: Eion Bailey and Tony Amendola. Otherwise known among Oncers as August and Gapetto. The ‘father and son’ duo revealed that their favorite scene to shoot was the garage scene where they reunited after August returns to Storybrooke. Both men wished they could have filmed more together. My favorite moment from this panel was when a fan asked Eion if his character was at all jealous of Killian swooping in on Emma and becoming her boyfriend. To which he replied: “I have two hands and he doesn’t, so why do I care?” But he goes on to tell us that whatever makes Emma happy would make him happy as well. Although, he did mention that Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan) and he had no idea what the relationship between Emma and August would be. He did add that Jen and he leaned toward a Bonnie and Clyde type duo. He also told the crowd that he loves filming scenes outside. Not only were Tony and Eion funny, but actually acted like father and son.

Sinqua Walls was introduced next. He plays Sir Lancelot. He told us that while he can sing, he doesn’t know if he’s actually good at it. Although he does say that he does a great rendition of Rhianna’s ‘Work’. The most interesting part of this panel was Sinqua had no idea he was auditioning for Lancelot. The show’s creators are very secretive about scripts, so when he auditioned, he just read for the role of a knight. Low and behold, he ended up being Lancelot. Asked by a fan on what his occupation would be if he ended up in Storybrooke during the first curse, he said he would be a cop that was clueless about anything happening around the town. Sinqua said he loves working alongside Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas, otherwise known on the show as Snow White and Prince Charming. Sinqua also expressed his newfound love for the city of Chicago.

Gil McKinney, Prince Eric, was next. And just like Prince Eric, Gil was every bit charming and sweet. Not only did he sing ‘Part of You World’ to the fans, he expressed how much he would love to come back to the show. Gil, ironically, mentioned his favorite Disney princess as a child was Ariel. He would love to explore more of Prince Eric’s character. He also did not find out who he would be playing until the press releases were sent out. He joked that he probably found out around the same time as the fans did. Surprisingly, we also learned that he read for the roles of Captain Hook and Daniel the Stable Boy. After many mentions of how briefly he was on the show, he jokes that he would love to be Prince Charming because he’s actually a regular on the show. Gil McKinney certainly did not disappoint and kept the crowd entertained.

Up last was Sean Maguire, our Robin Hood. The whole room went wild when he walked onto the stage. He expressed how he wishes he would have more scenes with Colin O’Donoghue. Also, he is a huge Captain Swan shipper and wishes Emma and Hook could just go to Ikea without a monster attacking or Hook dying again. As much as he wants them to be happy, Sean wants Regina and Robin to have their happily-ever-after too. Sean was ecstatic to find out he would be playing Regina’s love interest on the show. What he calls an odd pairing between Regina and Robin, has worked smoothly thus far. In fact, his exact words were, ‘yippee!’ when he heard Regina and Robin would become love interests. He and Lana Parrilla have a great dynamic on and off screen. He says she’s wonderful to work alongside. Sean’s favorite scene to shoot was in episode 22 of season 3 when Regina and Robin were sitting in front of the fireplace drinking wine. He loved how, for a brief moment, they were doing something a normal couple would do, because let’s be honest, not many normal things happen to the citizens of Storybrooke. Between curses and chasing monsters, the couples of Storybrooke never have a chance to relax. Next he spoke of his casting of Robin Hood. He did a lot of research on the fairytale. Only he forgot that Robin Hood was handy with bow and arrows. The problem? Sean had no idea how to shoot a bow or arrow, so a crew member has to hold his arrows in place as to not shoot a cast member. He says he certainly doesn’t want to kill any of his cast members.

A day full of laughs and inspiration, day 1 of OUATCHI was a perfect salute to Once Upon a Time.

Day 2:

Much like Saturday, the excitement was evident throughout the hotel’s theatre. The theatre was even more packed than the day before. Fans were anticipating the arrival of Lana Parrilla (Regina) and Rebecca Mader (Zalena). The host, Lee Arenberg, took the stage again to introduce the crowd to the first panel.

Gil McKinney, Michael Coleman, Chris Gauthier and Lee Arenberg started off the morning. You might know the men better as Prince Eric, Happy, Smee and Grumpy. Kicking off the panel, a fan asked the guys what a normal day in Storybrooke would be like. Gil jokingly replied “I wouldn’t know.” On the other hand, Michael said they would probably be waking up from yet another curse and asking, ‘What the hell happened?’ Because as you fans know, it wouldn’t be Storybrooke without some kind of curse. All four men disclosed that they had no idea what roles they were auditioning for. Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis like to keep their show under tight security. It’s all about element of surprise for this show. Each men knew exactly what roles they would want if they weren’t cast in their respective roles though. Chris would be Rumple; Michael would want to be Luke Skywalker because he thinks the show will eventually venture into that realm; Lee would also like to be Rumple because he’s fascinated by how Robert Carlyle plays him; and Gil would like to be Captain Hook because he is oddly attracted to Colin O’Donoghue. Then again, who isn’t?

Sean Maguire returned to the stage Sunday. He discusses his favorite part of filming which is when they have scenes in Storybrooke because he likes seeing the fans watching them. It makes him feel like he’s a street performer. For social media, Sean has found the block button to be the best feature when he encounters bullies. Nonetheless, he wishes the bullies of the world peace. His favorite thing to do in his spare time is to play with his baby boy. He says he likes playing soccer with him. While talking about Robin having a baby with Regina’s sister, he exclaims “oh my gosh. What even is this show!” Before leaving the stage, he did an Irish dance for the fans and we all joined him in singing ‘The Bare Necessities.’ Also, he dished out that he was offered the role as Jamie Dornan’s Sheriff Graham and Colin O’Donoghue’s Captain Hook before finally having the time in his schedule to be Robin Hood. And how lucky Oncers are to have him as Robin!

Taking the stage after intermission was Rebecca Mader, also known as the Wicked Witch. Her bubbliness was absolutely contagious and the whole theatre couldn’t help but laugh throughout her panel. She even said her ever famous line, “wicked always wins!” for the fans. Wicked onscreen, but certainly not off screen. Rebecca told us that she always forgets that she has to wear green makeup, so as she said when she uses the bathroom, she screams at her reflection. The green makeup she wears takes close to two hours to apply. What was Bex’s reaction when she landed the role? Well she hadn’t been working and she said, “I was picking up my dog’s poop and then my agent called.” So naturally she binged watched all 55 episodes before going on set. Bex is a binge watcher and absolutely loves Netflix. Between the laughs, she also discussed bullies. She said that if she ever did a documentary it would be on bullying because she herself was bullied for ten years. The bullying she endured only pushed her to become successful. I guess wicked does not always win. Her reappearance in season 4 wasn’t even known by her. Bex admitted that she thought Rumple had successfully killed her at the end of season 3. Then she was called in for season 4. Bex tells us that when she was told that Zalena would be impersonating Marianne and carrying Robin’s baby, that she knew the fandom would kill her for the conflicting plot twist. The fans may have been surprised by that twist, but Bex was just as surprised as well. A fun panel done by an inspiring woman.

Our Evil Queen Regina, Lana Parrilla, closed off the weekend. The screams were deafening from where I was sitting near the back of the theatre. She loves how her EvilRegals all support each other and is surprised that Regina has such a strong fan base because of all the crazy things Regina has done. Lana also tells us that she is a not a fan of bullying at all. She believes that in this world, there is absolutely no room for bullying and wishes everyone could be nice. When Lana was eight, she was set on becoming a nun, but obviously that did not happen. She actually didn’t start seriously acting until she was twenty-one. Lana says her favorite thing about Regina is her sass and costumes. I think Oncers can all agree with that statement. Luckily for fans who liked Evil Queen Regina, Lana discloses that she will be making a comeback in upcoming episodes. (Rumor has it that she’ll be appearing in the May 15 season finale.) Just like the fans, Lana loves watching old episodes and seeing how much Regina has evolved as a character. And because Lana is awesome, she told us that she is team Iron Man because she had a major crush on Robert Downey Jr. as a young girl. Lana also loves fighting onscreen with her wicked sister, Rebecca Mader’s character, Zalena. To end off the panel, Lana gave us her best impression of Evil Queen Regina. Just like the rest of us, Lana confesses she is a huge nerd when it comes to Once Upon a Time. Lana Parrilla wrapped up the show by singing and dancing on the stage with the host, Lee Arenberg.

A weekend filled with magic, laughs, and entertainment. Creation Entertainment successfully pulled together a show to unite fans for one common love: Once Upon a Time. I was lucky enough to cover this wonderful event. Make sure to catch Once Upon a Time on Sunday’s at 8pm Eastern time to see what the heroes of Storybrooke are up to. But don’t wait because unfortunately hiatus is coming soon!