This Friday the fairy tale cast of ABC’s Once Upon a Time came together in the Hyatt Centennial Ballroom. After premiering in 2011 the show quickly gained a wide a following and has been through three seasons with a fourth coming out in September. The show follows a large cast of fairy tale characters who have been transported to modern day America as they struggle to regain their identities and return home. The panel consisted of Lee Arenberg (Grumpy/Dreamy), Beverley Elliott (Granny), Giancarlo Esposito (Sydney/The Mirror), Robbie Kay (Peter Pan), Sean Maguire (Robin Hood), Rebecca Mader (The Wicked Witch).
The panel gave fans a chance to see how the characters approach their roles as well as how the show operates. The panelists felt grateful for the opportunity to represent well known characters in new ways. The new twists gave the actors more room to play. Rather than Disney’s light hearted hero, Robbie Kay got to play Peter Pan as an ancient, evil mastermind. The panelists explained that they’re as surprised by the new plot developments as the audience.
With the possible exception of Peter Pan, most of the villains become more sympathetic in the new re-telling. Many fans of the show find themselves rooting for the traditional villains more than the heroes. Rebecca Mader said that she identified most with her own character, the Wicked Witch of the West.
When asked to name each of their favorite episodes, the entire panel named the episode that explains their character’s backstory. Lee Arenberg explained that the show really works off of the ensemble, and that as a part of that ensemble even the supporting players get a chance to shine and explain their backstories.
The guests also explained some of their stories as actors. Sean Maguire and Robbie Kay had only ever worked as actors and said that dependence on their acting career really provided an extra level of motivation. Maguire mused: “How do I make a living when I’m pretty much useless at everything? That lack of a safety net really spurs you on.”
The panel closed on a high note when an attendee asked the guests to choose what song their characters would sing in a musical episode. Their answers ranged from “Let it Go” for the Wicked Witch to “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” for the diamond mining Grumpy.