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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Glee convention becomes impromptu memorial

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WHAT was supposed to be a weekend celebration of the musical TV series Glee turned into an impromptu memorial of song and dance for Cory Monteith after news of the Glee co-star's death rocked a fan convention in England.

The hundreds of "gleeks," as they're known -- joined a chorus of thousands worldwide who took to social media with similar expressions about Monteith's passing. The actor's struggles with addiction echoed those of other young stars whose premature deaths also left young fans grieving.

"The whole day was simultaneously the best and worst experience of my life," said Chloe Harvey, an 18-year-old fan from Portsmouth, England. "The news was devastating. No one had any idea what to say or do. It just shows how much of a truly amazing guy Cory was that everyone was so shocked and emotional about the news. Everyone was crying and sharing their stories."

Monteith, 31, was found dead in his Vancouver hotel room on Saturday, according to police, who said an autopsy would be performed to determine the cause of death.

At the weekend Glee convention, instead of planned revelry like singing competitions and autograph sessions with actors who've played members of the rival Warblers glee club, organizers Starfury Conventions rescheduled the final day of the three-day event at Heathrow's Thistle Hotel so the 250 attendees could mourn him together.

"We all woke up to hear the story, and no one really wanted to believe it was true," said Chloe-Louise Bond, a 22-year-old fan from Wakefield, England. "Walking into the main room, you could just feel the tragedy in the air, absolute strangers became a family right in that moment. Everyone was crying and hugging and just trying to get over the shock."

It was a day filled with sadness and songs. In unison, attendees sang tunes like Don't Stop Believin', the Journey cover crooned by Monteith in the high school-set musical's first episode. Curt Mega, Telly Leung and other actors who've played Warblers led a group discussion with fans about their memories of Monteith.

Monteith played Finn Hudson, a football quarterback with two left feet who found more camaraderie in the choir room than on the football field. Outside the Vancouver hotel where Monteith's body was discovered, a makeshift memorial popped up where fans left flowers and notes commemorating the actor. RipCoryMonteith and StayStrongLea became trending topics on Twitter.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 16, 2013 D3

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