Torchsong Chicago

June 5th, 2009 by sidewinder Leave a reply »

A lot of my friends are big Torchwood fans, and a number of them have been planning on attending Torchsong Chicago this weekend, especially to see prominently advertised guest and main series star John Barrowman.

Well, at the last minute it’s been announced that both John and Kai Owen will not be attending (John due to injury, Kai for undisclosed personal reasons). Understandably, there is huge upset over this, particularly given the very high cost paid by many attendees for the event, photo-op tickets, and a cabaret that was advertised primarily as a showcase for John. The convention organizers are so far insisting that absolutely no refunds will be given, not even partial ones, which no doubt they’ve covered their butts legally in their ticket sales to do this, as most all conventions do. Yet given the high prices paid by some for the event — upwards of $1,410 a person in an auction for front row seats and $500 for “Premiere Memberships” — one wonders if they’ll really be able to get away with that or if there might be so much public outcry (and potential legal troubles) that they may have to relent. Even if not, I doubt many Torchwood fans would go to another event sponsored by this same promoters again.

Who knows what will happen yet? I’ll be following the fall-out and looking forward to reports back from my friends — some of whom were already in transit to the Chicago area before news of the cancellations was released.

  • CodependentPrimaDonna

    I was thoroughly disappointed by Torchsong Chicago. I went to see John Barrowman, no one else. I didn’t know who Mark Shepard was, nor had I ever heard of Peter Wingfield. I’m not blaming John for anything. It’s the organizers of the convention with whom I have a problem. The whole event was advertised as “Come spend a weekend with John Barrowman and Guests.” Who would have paid that kind of money if it had said “Come spend a weekend with GUESTS?” Not me. You take John Barrowman out of the equation and the original concept is completely lost, and it becomes an entirely different event. This was a weekend built around spending two days with John Barrowman, not his guests, and not a Sky-Chat with him. Through no fault of his own, he was injured and couldn’t attend. Had the even been insured, refunds could have been offered, and the bad feelings which now exist, wouldn’t.

    The $1000 my husband and I spent to get the “Premiere Weekend Membership” was all we had, and the money that paid for transportation and lodging was supposed to go on this month’s bills. I know, it’s irresponsible for people in our situation to throw away so much money on something so frivolous; but I haven’t gone ANYWHERE since my 1984 bus trip to Kansas City, which lasted a whopping 24 hours round trip, so obviously, I’m not prone to frivolity .That’s how important it was to me to have the chance to meet John. That may sound silly too, but with my coronary and pulmonary issues, I’ve begun to realize that I can’t put off ‘til tomorrow what ever joy I can get from life, because tomorrow might be one day too late. So, we packed up all my meds and my medical equipment and headed to Chicago. About a half an hour after checking in to the hotel, we were told by another attendee, what had happened.

    Finding out that John wouldn’t be there was devastating, but what was even more disheartening was the rudeness and disrespect we were shown by the organizers. The abusive attitude and he insulting way we were treated was inexcusable. It all boiled down to “We’ve already got your money, so screw you.” As I said, no one is blaming John for any of this. Our concern for him and sympathy for his injury are first and foremost, and we wish him a speedy recovery. The event may have had his name on it, but he didn’t organize or run it., and I’m sure that he had no idea what a “gyp” it was, or with what type of organization he had become involved. We are also very appreciative of the extra effort put forth by the rest of the guests who had to carry more than their load. No one blames them, either. The blame for this fiasco rests solely upon the shoulders of the organizers, and they should be held accountable.

    My husband used to be a frequent, experienced convention attendee, and according to him, Torchsong, all rudeness and disrespect aside, was nothing short of a pathetic, failed attempt at a convention, lacking in professionalism and organization. The only thing that would have justified the ridiculously high cost of the “Premium Weekend Membership” would have been the opportunity to meet John Barrowman in person and to hear him sing (in person) during the “John Barrowman Cabaret.” Without that, Torchsong, by all industry standards, was a joke. The convention we attended bore no resemblance to the event advertised on the web site and in the media. Had John been there, it would have all been worth it to me, but through no fault of his own, he wasn’t.

    Since the organizers didn’t take out event insurance, there were no refunds, so the way I see it, we were swindled, defrauded, and cheated. Apparently the credit card companies agree, because some people I know have already received full refunds. Unfortunately we don’t have a credit card, and paid directly through our bank. I was told that they have no protection against fraud, and suggested I see a lawyer. The promises of discounts for next year don’t affect those of us who have no way of possibly being there. What little money we had is gone. We bring in just enough to get by. Even if next year’s “Premiere Weekend Membership” for the event were miraculously free, there wouldn’t be any money for transportation, hotels, etc., to do this a second time. Even if the lack of money weren’t the issue, my declining health could be. I can’t guarantee that I will still be well enough to make the trip in a year. This was my one shot at this. So, all of the promises of “making it us to us next year” are contingent upon having quite a bit of additional money to invest, and the physical ability to get there. I guess those of us who don’t, are just out of luck.

    I still love John, and enjoy his work as much as I ever have. I can’t state strongly enough, that no one is blaming John, or is in any way connecting him with any of the decisions or actions of the Torchsong organizers. Unfortunately now, I do experience certain sadness when watch him or listen to his music. I hope that will abate with time.

    Class action law suits have been repeatedly mentioned. Does anyone have contact information available for them?

  • sidewinder_FH

    CodependentPrimaDonna, very sorry to hear about your experiences, and I know you were not alone in them. Please do keep us posted if you make any progress in getting a legal resolution to the situation, or know of other fans who do.

  • laineygirl

    I went to Torchsong as a Premier ticket holder. Though I was disappointed at John and Kai not being able to make it; both were understandable. John broke his ankle the day before and couldn't fly on doctors order (and yes I believe that) and Kai's "personal reasons" were explained at the con but I wont go into that here. It was, yes, a bit of a disappointment though Peter Wingfield and others who stepped in made it a memorable time still. But its not like JB just decided not to show up or canceled at the last minute because he had work pop up somewhere else. He and everyone around him still worked on to give the ticket holders a great con; not like that faux FedCon in Dallas who waited until Saturday to tell everyone that the con was canceled and even left actors waiting at the airport for airplane tickets that would never arrive. We have seen a lot of cons fold this year without even bothering to try to pull it out and the fact that they managed to even organize the "SkyChat" on such short notice is just evidence that John took this con and his inability to be there very seriously.

    And in a way, some good things did come out of it. We got to meet John's mother and his partner as well which we may not have done had he been here.

    I know that there are people who aren't going to be happy without a full refund; some will dispute the charges on their credit card and some may even sue which I am a bit sorry for only because I saw these people work so hard to give us something of quality though it wasn't what we originally paid for.

    Would I go again? IN A HEARTBEAT, and not just because John has promised discounts to those who had purchased tickets for this one (and I heard, those that bid on the more expensive seats will get their same seats on the front row again at the next con).

    I will go because I thoroughly and positively enjoyed myself, the people that I met, the actors I got to hear, and yes, even the 'virtual time' we got to spend with John.

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