BroadwayCon 2016: Part 3

January 24th: BroadwayCon Day 3 (the Final Day)

And so we have reached the final day of BroadwayCon 2016. And once again I was flying solo.

One of the panels I was most looking forward to was on the last day of BroadwayCon: “Insiders, Outsiders & Masked Avengers: Your Role in the Broadway Community,” featuring Patrick Hinds (creator/host of the Theater People Podcast), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (one of the creators/hosts of The Ensemblist Podcast), Anrew Briedis (@AnnoyingActorFriend), Laura Heywood (@BroadwayGirlNYC), Aaron J. Albano, and Erin Quill. The Theatre People Podcast and The Ensemblist are two of my favourite podcasts and I was really excited to see Patrick and Nikka, who I also met after the panel! (Though actually I met Patrick at the Marketplace before the panel, and talked to him again afterwards!)

After a bit of a break with was time for the Smash panel with Joshua Safran (Executive Producer and Showrunner for season 2 of Smash).

*Side note: As I was waiting for this panel Alex Lacamoire walked past me in the hallway. I was too nervous to go up to him though, and it looked like he was heading somewhere, not just walking around.*

The Smash panel itself was a lot of fun, but I’ll have to leave it at that because we had to promise not to share anything from the panel!

Following that I had my second autograph session, this time with Nikka Graff Lanzarone and Andrew Briedis! I had actually forgotten about this session when I met Nikka after the morning panel, so I ended up getting her autograph twice (but I’m OK with that!)

I then wandered around the Marketplace some more, since it would be my last chance. I think this was when I saw Laura Osnes signing autographs at one of the booths. I did not get her autograph though because the line was quite long and I didn’t know if you had to buy something from that particular booth for her to sign, and I had already spent enough money over the course of the weekend!

I decided to head to the MainStage and ended up catching the end of the Waitress panel and saw part of Sara Bareilles’s performance of “She Used to Be Mine.” I wish I had seen the full performance! I wasn’t yet familiar with the song at that point but what I saw/heard was beautiful (I have since listened to this song multiple times!) And once again, I learned later that it wasn’t a planned performance!

Next up was “Next Stop Broadway” which featured short interviews and performances about and from upcoming musicals including Tuck EverlasingNatasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (this one also featured a cast announcement and a video message from Josh Groban), Nerds, and Found. It was cool getting a sort of sneak peak at what was/is to come on Broadway (though unfortunately Tuck Everlasting is already closing and Nerds is no longer happening).

 We then had to vacate the MainStage so they could prepare for the closing and I got to spend some more time waiting in line. And then it was time for the final event of the weekend, “So Long, Farewell… to BroadwayCon 2016.” The closing ceremony featured a sing-along of the BroadwayCon Opening number, “BroadwayCon’s the Place for You;” Lena Hall singing (belting) “Lullaby of Broadway;” and a “Seasons of Love” sing along. A beautiful ending to a beautiful weekend!

With BroadwayCon ending in the early evening, it did mean there was time for us to fit in another show that night, so my dad picked us up tickets to Avenue Q, which became my first Off-Broadway show! I was already a fan of the show but I don’t think I’ve ever related to that it as much as I did seeing it that night! It was also my first time really leaving the hotel since the Thursday night so it was nice to get out, and to see the crazy amounts of snow everywhere!

Parting Thoughts

I am interested to see what the “big” show(s) will be at BroadwayCon next year. I’m sure the “big” shows from this year will still be popular (I’m looking at you Hamilton) and there are the late-comers from this season that could still have their chance to shine, but there is a whole new season on its way with new shows already announced and others we haven’t heard about yet! It’s so exciting to think about and consider! What will be the next “big” thing?!

I’m also interested to see how it will be at a different venue since BroadwayCon 2017 will be at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. (I don’t know about you but every time I hear/think of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center I automatically think of Benny’s line in “Benny’s Dispatch” from In the Heights!) It’s like the 2013 Tony Award- they’re going bigger!

I can’t wait for next year!

9. Day 3 Closing 1

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BroadwayCon 2016: Part 2

January 23rd- BroadwayCon Day 2 (aka BlizzardCon)

I have to say I was very happy that we were staying at the Hilton as this was the day of the huge blizzard in NYC! And I had my dad with me this time!

We started the day with “The BroadwayCon Feud,” hosted by Jenn Colella, with Lesli Margherita, Rob McClure, Susan Blackwell, Jonathan Groff, Ryann Redmond, and some BroadwayCon attendees. It was so much fun and Jenn made an excellent host!

We then went to a set design panel followed by a visit to the BroadwayCon Museum, highlights from which included models of the Hamilton set and Lena Hall’s wedding dress covered in signatures from the Hedwig and the Angry Inch cast party!

In the autograph/photobooth lottery before BroadwayCon I got 3 autograph sessions the first of which was on this day with Andrew, Celia, & Maggie Keenan-Bolger. It was really cool getting to meet all of them (I actually didn’t know that I was going to be meeting Maggie too!) but especially Andrew! Unfortunately my second autograph session, which was also supposed to be on the 23rd with Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk, was cancelled due to the blizzard. As an unexpected bonus though, I did get to meet Lisa Kron when I was wandering around the BroadwayCon Marketplace. She was at the Drama Bookshop booth, where I was already buying Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Diary, so I couldn’t resist buying the Fun Home cast recording (which I didn’t yet have) and getting her autograph!

Due to the blizzard a lot of the programming for the day was altered and we spent a lot of the day back at the MainStage. There was karaoke, hosted by Ben Cameron. There were a lot of talented people there among the fans! There was the “Avenue Q & A” which consisted on short interviews with some of the Broadway stars who were in attendance that day. Highlights included Andrew Keenan-Bolger singing part of “Letter from the Refuge” (the song added for Crutchie in the touring production of Newsies); Lesli Margherita talking about working at Disney and singing “Part of Your World;” and Rob McClure’s story about seeing Sweeney Todd  for the first time (and all his consecutive times seeing it) followed by his one-man rendition of “Pretty Women” (again, I seriously recommend looking up video of this!).

With Ben acting as host we also spent some time watching popular Broadway-related YouTube videos (mostly Tony Awards Performances). I actually found this to be a lot of fun because you knew that the majority of the people in that room (myself included) spend  time watching those and similar videos anyway, so to be in a room where we were all singing along and just having a good time was a lot of fun. And it was made all the better with Ben’s hosting skills!

The some of the craziest and most unexpected moments of the day came when Anthony Rapp, Melissa Anelli, David Alpert, Blake Ross, and Michael Riedel took to the MainStage for what was called the “BroadwayCon Party Line.” They then proceeded to call their various Broadway contacts and put them on speaker phone. People including: Darren Criss, Idina Menzel, Norm Lewis, Harvey Fierstein, Betty Buckly, Laura Benanti, Patti LuPone (resulting in #senduspizzapatti), Audra McDonald, Lena Hall & Stephen Trask, Ana Gasteyer, Joel Grey, Shanice Williams, Jeremy Jordan (video chat), and Tommy Tune (voicemail). It was incredible! Just to hear so many huge stars, even just on the phone like that, in real time, it’s something I could never have imagined happening!

The night ended with Krysta Rodriguez performing a sort of cabaret with Joe Iconis, Joshua Safran, and Ben Rauhala, singing songs from SmashThe Addams FamilyFirst DateIn the HeightsSpring Awakening (complete with ASL) and more. I learned later that she was only supposed to go on for a little while but ended up performing like an hour long set!

The day might not have turned out how anyone originally planned it but I think it was still an excellent day and I think the unexpectedness of it made it all the more memorable!

9. Day 3 Closing 1

 

BroadwayCon 2016: Part 1

 

Back in January I was fortunate enough to be at the first ever BroadwayCon in New York City! (I mentioned before that I have been to the city 3 times, this was trip #3!) During the trip and in the days following I made some notes on my experiences but haven’t really done anything with them since. Now, since I’ve started this blog, I figure what better place to share BroadwayCon experiences than on a Broadway/Theatre blog?! As I was working on this post however, I realized it was getting to be quite lengthy, so, for all our sakes, I’ve decided to make this a 3-part series of posts (one for each day of BroadwayCon) instead of one long post! This post (Part 1) will cover the day before BroadwayCon and the first day of the convention, next week I’ll cover day 2, and then day 3!

General Trip Info: BroadwayCon took place at the New York Hilton Midtown on January 22-24, 2016. I was in the city from the 21st until the 25th. My father actually came on the trip with me. I had a weekend pass for the convention and he got a day pass for the Saturday. And of course we had to fit in a couple of shows while we were in the city!!

Now on to the good stuff!

January 21st- The Day Before BroadwayCon!

We arrived in the city in the afternoon of the 21st (it was a Thursday), which meant we had gotten there early enough to see a show Thursday night. Our pick? School of Rock (playing at the Winter Garden)! Our tickets were in the 3rd row of the orchestra, which is the closest I’ve ever sat at a Broadway show! (Thank you TKTS!) The show was amazing! And of course, because I’m me, we went to the stage door after the show. Shout out to my tall father who was able to reach over people to get autographs for me! I was really happy to get Sierra Boggess’s autograph because I missed her at the stage door after Phantom  when I saw it in 2014, and I got my picture taken with Alex Brightman, who was very nice, and it was all really exciting! We had dinner after the show then went back to the hotel (we were staying at the Hilton where BroadwayCon was being held), ready for a Broadway-filled weekend!

Day 0 14(Me and Dewey himself, Alex Brightman!)

January 22nd- BroadwayCon Day 1!

This was one time when it was good having a last name that starts with a letter near the end of the alphabet as there was hardly a line in my section for registration! The morning of BroadwayCon Day 1 was filled with meet-ups. I went to one called “Flying Solo: Party of One Meetup” (pretty self-explanatory) and, after that, “Seize the Day!: The Fansies Meetup.” The latter got particularly exciting when Tyler Mount came in and then FaceTimed with Dan DeLuca, who had been Jack Kelly in the touring production of Newsies!

The first panel I went to was “Making Your Own Work” with panelists Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Kate Wetherhead (these two I was particularly excited to see), Kait Kerrigan, Brian Lowdermilk, and Alice Ripley, and moderated by Frank DiLella. Now, almost 4 months later, I don’t remember all of the discussions but I did really enjoy that panel! BroadwayCon was off to a good start!

After spending a lot of time in line, where I also met some really nice people, it was time for the Opening Ceremony!! What an experience! An original musical that ended with a stage full of Broadway stars, including Tommy Tune and Ben Vereen! There is video of the Finale from the Opening on the BroadwayCon YouTube channel and I highly recommend checking it out; even just thinking about it gets the song stuck in my head!

Following the Opening was “History is Happening in Manhattan: The Hamilton Panel.” This panel included Daveed Diggs, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson, Leslie Odom, Jr., Philippa Soo, and the man himself, Lin-Manuel Miranda; moderated by Blake Ross. Just to be in the same room as that wonderful cast was an amazing experience and then to top it all off I got to be there to see Lin freestyle at the end of it! Incredible!

I basically stayed at the MainStage from the Opening Ceremony (which started at 3:30pm) until the end of the day (about 1am). The next even following Hamilton was called “I Was a Teenage Diva,” during which they showed clips from when various Broadway stars were young and the audience had to guess who it was in the video. The stars would then come out and talk about the clip. It was really a lot of fun! I had actually heard Alex Brightman talking about that particular event the night before at the School of Rock stage door, so I knew his was going to be one of the clips!

I mentioned the Rent panel in last week’s blog, “10,514,880 Minutes: How Do You Measure 20 Years of Rent?“, and it really was one of the highlights of the convention for me! I think it also worked really well having Anthony Rapp act as moderator for the panel. One of my favourite parts was when Daphne Rubin-Vega FaceTimed Jesse L. Martin, who couldn’t be there. They passed around her on the stage and there was a really sweet moment when Jesse saw Wilson Jermaine Heredia. Jonathan Larson’s sister, and Cynthia O’Neal, a founder of Friends In Deed (the real life organization on which some of the Life Support scenes in Rent are based) were also part of the panel. It was so interesting hearing everyone talking about the show, Jonathan Larson, and just their experiences with all of it!

Another of my favourite moments of BroadwayCon actually occurred between MainStage events on Day 1. I was walking back towards the MainStage when I heard music. At first  thought it was just something happening on the stage between panels, but as I continued walking it didn’t sound as though it was coming from the room with the stage, and I noticed that it sounded like Lena Hall. I looked down through one of the circular cut outs in the floor (I don’t really know what else you’d call them) to the floor below and there was Lena Hall playing guitar and singing, sitting on one of the registration tables! It was one of those unexpected moments that could only happen somewhere like that!

11. Day 1 Lena Hall 2

 Following the Rent panel on MainStage was “The BroadwayCon Jukebox,” a wonderful event in which Kerry Butler, Stark Sands, Jenn Colella, Ryann Redmond, Alysha Umphress, Lena Hall, Ben Cameron (who was hosting the Jukebob and quickly became a Con favourite), and Anthony Rapp sang songs voted on by the audience. Highlights include Lena Hall singing “Origin of Love,” Ryann Redmond singing “I Will Always Love You,” and actually basically every song everyone sang! (I did keep track of the full set list, but even with limiting this post to the first two days of the trip, it’s still getting quite long, so I will spare you the full list!) I will say there were a lot of powerhouse voices that night and it was amazing!!!

I final event of the day/night was “Don’t Quit Your Night Job.” Broadway stars (including James Monroe Iglehard, Lesli Margherita, Ali Stroker, Adam Kantor, Ben Rappaport, and more) doing improv, culminating in Anthony Rapp performing a Mad Libs version of “What You Own.” Every part of it was hilarious and it was so much fun seeing the goofy side of the stars involved!

As you can see Day 1 was a busy day, but it was an excellent one! And I’ll see you here next week for BroadwayCon Day 2!

9. Day 3 Closing 1

“‘Cause Everything is Rent”

(It’s another 2 blog posts week!)

Last week was the 20th anniversary of Rent opening on Broadway and I, like so many others, am a huge fan, so I thought I would take the chance to talk about this much-loved show and my experiences with it!

I first experienced Rent after the movie had already been out for a while. I think this was also quite near the beginning of my musical obsession. I remember renting the movie from Roger’s Video, when I was finding out more about musicals and Broadway and watching more movie musicals (something which I’m still always looking to do). I have since lost track of how many times I’ve seen the movie; it is one of my favourite movie musicals, if not my favourite. The “Filmed Live on Broadway” version has also gotten some wear on it. (I also LOVE that there is a “Filmed Live on Broadway” version!!!)

I have been fortunate enough to see Rent live twice, though, unfortunately, never on Broadway. I think the first time I saw it was in 2008 when it played at the Sony Centre in Toronto. (I had to look it up trying to find when it played there and I have to say it’s not really an easy show to google, particularly when you can rent space at the theatre!). The cast of this tour included Jed Resnick as Mark and Heinz Winckler as Roger. I absolutely loved seeing it live! I remember really like the set, with the “Christmas tree” and the use of the space. I’ll admit I did not “moo” with Maureen that time (I was too self-conscious).

The second time I saw the show was when “The Broadway Tour” starring Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal came to the Canon/Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto in 2010. Getting to see those two in the roles they had originated, and played in the movie, was an incredible experience and it still makes me happy to think about it. It also still adds a level of excitement to listening to the  cast recordings, both OBC and movie. (And I did “moo” this time, albeit, quietly!)

I remember one particular moment that hit me the first time I saw Rent liveIt was during “Life Support” at the line “because reason says I should’ve died three years ago.” In the movie as Gordon is singing and you can hear another voice come in for that line, but I didn’t really understand why. Onstage, though, while Gordon is singing, it’s Roger who joins in for that line; you see him onstage join in. Suddenly that “random” voice in the movie made more sense and it made that line/scene hit even harder because I hadn’t been expecting it. It still gets me pretty much every time, that and the end of “Contact” with everyone saying, “It’s over,” and Collins’s final, “It’s over.”

I love both the movie and the live production and I do feel that, as far as movie adaptations go, Rent is pretty darn good, especially when it comes to casting! I do wish they had kept the second half of “Goodbye Love” in the movie though. At least it’s in the deleted scenes! I also really enjoy “Christmas Bells” in the musical, but I can understand why it’s excluded from the movie.

The more I’ve learned about Rent and Jonathan Larson, the more love and respect I have for it and him and everything the show and its writer have done. I still love learning new things about the show and everyone involved with it.

This show (especially the movie) introduced me to so many more excellent actors as well, such as Anthony Rapp. I even went on to read his book/autobiography Without You and saw his one-man show of the same title, based on the book, when it came to Toronto as part of the “Off-Mirvish” season a few years ago. I love how each new musical opens up this whole world of possibilities, even from the fan perspective, like inspiring you to look up other things the actors have done, other things the creative team have done, and opening your mind up to different styles of musical theatre or theatre in general.

In January of this year, I attended BroadwayCon (there will likely be a post coming up about this whole event in the near future) and there was a Rent anniversary panel, “10,514,880 Minutes: How Do You Measure 20 Years of Rent?”. The panel included Anthony Rapp (who also acted as moderator), Daphne Rubin-Vega, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Rodney Hicks, Fredi Walker-Browne, Aiko Nakasone, Barnard Telsey, Marlies Yearby, James C. Nicola, Julie Larson McCollum, and Cynthia O’Neal. It was one of the highlights of the convention for me! And then Daphne called Jesse L. Martin via FaceTime and it was wonderful! Hearing all of those people talk about the show- their connections to it, how they became involved, sharing stories about the show and Jonathan- it was amazing! Rent has meant so much to so many people, those who have been involved with the show and it’s various incarnations over the years and the fans, for the 20 years now. It was so cool to be in a room with with people who were there from the beginning and filled with I don’t even know how many fans! I’m so glad I got to be there for that! It’s certainly an experience I won’t forget!

Rent really did make a huge impact on the industry. Hearing how the show and Jonathan Larson have influenced other successful shows and people in the industry, like Lin Manuel Miranda for instance, it shows the power that musicals and the theatre can, and do, have. Rent opened up so many more possibilities for the world of musical theatre and I think we can all be grateful for that!

Thank you Jonathan Larson.

No Day But Today!

Rent Stuff

Theatre Awards Shows (Part 2): Let’s Talk Tony Nominations

Yes, I did get up to watch the stream of the Tony Awards nominations this morning. This is the second year I’ve watched the nominations live. I find Tony season really exciting (this blog has clearly already established that I’m a theatre nerd, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise) and seeing the nominations is part of that!

I don’t feel I can really comment too much when it comes to the specific shows because I’ve only actually seen one of them (School of Rock), though it does make me really excited knowing that I have actually seen one of the shows before it was Tony nominated! I have watched clips and listened to cast recordings but I’m still not familiar with all of the shows. So I’m not really going to pass judgement on what should/shouldn’t be nominated.  I will also say, I know a lot less about the plays than the musicals, so I won’t really be commenting on them. I mainly just want to take a moment to talk about what I’m excited about this Tony season!

I have some mixed feelings this season because, from what I’ve seen in clips and heard talk about, there seem to be so many good shows. It definitely seems, though, like it’s going to be Hamilton‘s year, something made all the more clear with its 16 NOMINATIONS (and of course it broke another record)! That leads to my “problem” because I want Hamilton to win. I love the cast recording, I think Lin is incredibly talented and it just seems like an amazing production. BUT that leaves all the other amazing shows this season, that I would love to see win, and probably would win if they weren’t against Hamilton. So really, the problem is that there are just too many good options!

Looking back through the lists of nominees after the announcement I did notice that Hamilton is nominated in every musical category except revival, which pretty cool. I do think it will be a tight race in some of the categories and even if it’s a Hamilton sweep I think there’s still a chance for the other shows to hold their own. There is so much talent in this Broadway season, as there is every season, but there just seems to be something about this season! It’s all very exciting!

I am really excited for School of Rock and Spring Awakening. Prior to the announcement I had really wanted Alex Brightman, who plays Dewey Finn in School of Rock  to be nominated, and I’m SO GLAD he was. He gives an incredible performance as Dewey and it makes me so happy to see him recognized for it! From everything I heard and saw, the Deaf West production of Spring Awakening looked stunning, and I really wanted them to get to perform on the Tonys because for one thing I wanted to see them perform, but I also wanted it for them. Now I’m so excited that they’ve been nominated for Best Revival and that Michael Arden is nominated for Best Director!

Some of the other actors/actresses I’m really happy to see nominated (though this has more to do with the performers themselves, rather these specific performances with which I am less familiar) include Zachary Levi (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical- She Loves Me), Megan Hilty (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play- Noises Off, Adrienne Warren (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical-Shuffle Along) and Laura Benanti (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical- She Loves Me). I’m also excited for all of the Waitress nominations and of course Hamilton.

I am kind of surprised that Tuck Everlasting didn’t get more nominations, aside from Best Costume Design, as I’ve only been hearing good things about it.

(And I still think they should  bring back the Sound Design Tony.)

I will say, now, after hearing the nominations, I’m even more looking forward to all of the performances that will be part of the Tony broadcast this year and can’t wait to see which songs will be performed!! I think I’m going to be spending a lot of time over the next little while watching a lot of show clips and listening to cast recordings getting ready for the big day! (not that that’s really any different from how I usually spend my time!)

Congratulations to all of the nominees! I can’t wait for June 12th to see who’s going to win (besides Hamilton)!