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!
(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!
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!