These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

A while ago I was watching some videos on YouTube that people had made of compilations of their top/favourite showtunes. There were videos for female solos and male solos and it got me thinking, what songs would I put on lists of my favourite musical theatre songs? This then led me to thinking of other “top” lists and the result is this post. Besides just songs I’ve also included some lists of my favourite shows and moments from shows. It was fun going through my iTunes library and Spotify lists trying to figure out what songs would actually go on these lists and especially if I were to limit myself to a certain number of songs (in this case 25). As a very indecisive person it was hard enough to pick the shows and songs so, unlike other lists you might find, my choices, on any of these lists, are not listed in any particular order. These lists are also ever-changing. I started working on them a while ago but since then I’ve seen more shows and heard more cast recordings bringing even more things into consideration. Who knows, this week’s lists might be completely different than those I would come up with next week or next month or next year!

These first two lists are based on shows that I have seen live.

Top 10 Favourite Musicals

  • We Will Rock You
  • Godspell
  • Wicked
  • Waitress
  • Bandstand
  • Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
  • Newsies
  • Rocky
  • Rent
  • Come From Away

Favourite Act 1 Finales:

  • Anything Goes- “Anything Goes”
  • Bandstand- “Right This Way”
  • Wicked- “Defying Gravity”
  • Rock of Ages- “Here I Go Again”
  • Bat Out of Hell- “Bat Out of Hell”

These next lists look at songs in different categories (female solo, male solo, duets/trios, group numbers). These lists include a mix of songs that I think are actually some of the best musical theatre songs and songs that I just really like (and I’m not going to tell you which are which)! I’ve probably left off some of the former in favour of  some of the latter, but it’s my list so I can include what I want! I also did not limit it to just songs from Broadway shows, so you’ll find some West End and Off-Broadway songs in there as well! To keep things simple (theoretically), I’ve also limited the songs to one per show (per list) though there are many shows that could have multiple songs on each list and it was harder than I thought to pick just one! Unlike the lists above, I have not seen all of these shows live.

(And honestly, these lists could have been a lot longer, which is why I decided to limit myself to 25 songs per list.)

Favourite Female Solos:

  • “She Used to Be Mine”- Waitress
  • “Welcome Home (Finale)”- Bandstand
  • “No Good Deed”- Wicked
  • “Vanilla Ice Cream”- She Loves Me
  • “Like Other Girls”- Daddy Long Legs
  • “By My Side”- Godspell
  • “Satisfied”- Hamilton
  • “So Much Better”- Legally Blonde
  • “Wonder”- Lord of the Rings
  • “Watch What Happens”- Newsies
  • “Woman”- The Pirate Queen
  • “Raining”- Rocky
  • “A Way Back to Then”- [Title of Show]
  • “A Quiet Night at Home”- Bare
  • “I Will Prevail”- Wonderland
  • “Always Starting Over”- If/Then
  • “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”- Phantom of the Opera (particularly Sierra Boggess’s version)
  • “Home”- Beauty and the Beast
  • “What I Did For Love”- A Chorus Line
  • “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”- Beautiful
  • “Breathe”- In the Heights
  • “Memory”- Cats
  • “Meadowlark”- The Baker’s Wife
  • “On My Own”- Les Miserables
  • “No One Else”- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

Favourite Male Solos

  • “Role of a Lifetime”- Bare
  • “Dust and Ashes”- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
  • “Goodbye”- Catch Me If You Can
  • “When Your Mind’s Made Up”- Once
  • “She Loves Me”- She Loves Me
  • “Waving Through a Window”- Dear Evan Hansen
  • “Before the Summer Ends”- Dracula
  • “Wait For It”- Hamilton
  • “The Origin of Love”- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • “Beautiful City”- Godspell (revival version)
  • “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”- Les Miserables
  • “Til I Hear You Sing”- Love Never Dies
  • “Music of the Night”- Phantom of the Opera
  • “Santa Fe”- Newsies
  • “I’ve Been”- Next to Normal
  • “Run Away With Me”- The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown / The Mad Ones (by Kait Kerrigan & Brian Lowdermilk)
  • “Keep on Standing”- Rocky
  • “Being Alive”- Company
  • “One Song Glory”- Rent
  • “If I Can’t Love Her”- Beauty and the Beast
  • “(Just a) Simple Sponge”- SpongeBob SquarePants
  • “I Believe”- The Book of Mormon
  • “Anthem”- Chess
  • “Electricity”- Billy Elliot
  • “Make Them Hear You”- Ragtime

Favourite Duets/Trios:

  • “Falling Slowly”- Once
  • “Sunrise”- In the Heights
  • “Who I’d Be”- Shrek
  • “If I Said I Love You”- The Pirate Queen
  • “I Will Never Leave You”- Side Show
  • “You Matter To Me”- Waitress
  • “For Good”- Wicked
  • “I’ll Cover You”- Rent
  • “In A Crowd of Thousands”- Anastasia
  • “Under Pressure”- We Will Rock You
  • “This Is Life”- Bandstand
  • “Tonight”- West Side Story
  • “Forever Yours”- Once On This Island
  • “The I Love You Song”- The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
  • “All I Ask of You”- Phantom of the Opera
  • “The Proposal/The Night Was Alive”- Titanic
  • “Now and For Always”- Lord of the Rings
  • “The World Will Remember Us”– Bonnie and Clyde
  • “At the Ballet”- A Chorus Line
  • “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”- Bat Out of Hell
  • “The Movie in My Mind”- Miss Saigon
  • “Lily’s Eyes”- The Secret Garden
  • “Wake Me Up When September Ends”- American Idiot
  • “Dangerous Game”- Jekyll and Hyde
  • “First Date/Last Night”- Dogfight

Favourite Group Numbers:

  • “Seasons of Love”- Rent
  • “It’s All Happening”- Bring It On
  • “96000”- In the Heights
  • “One Day More”- Les Miserables
  • “Letters”- Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
  • “Once and For All”- Newsies
  • “Touch Me”- Spring Awakening
  • “Sunday”- Sunday in the Park With George
  • “Happiness”- You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown
  • “It Sucks to Be Me”- Avenue Q
  • “Welcome to the Rock”- Come From Away
  • “Nobody”- Bandstand
  • “Finale”- From Here to Eternity
  • “The Flesh Failures/Eyes Look Your Last/Let the Sun Shine In”- Hair
  • “Alexander Hamilton”- Hamilton
  • “Epilogue: In Every Age (Reprise)/Finale”- Titanic
  • “Why We Tell the Story”- Once On This Island
  • “Tomorrow Is”- SpongeBob SquarePants
  • “You Will Be Found”- Dear Evan Hansen
  • “Revolting Children”- Matilda
  • “The Deal (No Deal)”- Chess (particularly the concert version)
  • “Hello”- The Book of Mormon
  • “Everybody’s Got the Right”- Assassins
  • “21 Guns”- American Idiot
  • “You Can’t Stop the Beat”- Hairspray

(It should go without saying that all of these lists are MY OPINION and are in to way definitive lists of ANY kind. It was just something fun for me to think about!)

I would love to hear what any of your favourite shows or musical theatre songs are! Let me know! (I’m always looking to expand my music library!)

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It’s Great to be a Broadway Fan

Every time I take a trip to New York I’m reminded why I love the city, Broadway and why it’s great to be a Broadway fan and BroadwayCon is the ultimate reminder of this. It’s a reminder of the expanse of the Broadway fan community. It brings the fans and the professionals together but at BroadwayCon, everyone is a fan. That’s one of the great things about Broadway. You know that everyone onstage is also a fan. So often when the stars are talking about BroadwayCon in interviews, they say how they wish there had been something like it when they were growing up. They understand where we (those of us attending BroadwayCon as fans) are coming from. On top of that, they all seem genuinely excited to be there.

It’s such an inspiring community to be a part of and witness. Hearing everyone at BroadwayCon speaking so passionately about everything, whatever their “thing” happened to be, made me so glad to be there and reminded me why I love that world. I left feeling inspired, which you can see has led to me posting on this blog five times this week!

One of the cool things about the Broadway (fan) community is that there are so many types of fans: actors, singers, dancers, technicians, designers, directors, writers, amateurs, professionals, students, teachers, kids, adults, play lovers, musical lovers, creators, observers, and just straight up fans. You could be any of these things or any combination of them or something else entirely (there are so many facets and elements that I can’t list them all). There is a place for all of it and everyone- just look at the variety of programming offered at BroadwayCon. You could be someone who know’s every show that’s played at every theatre, you could have stacks of Playbills, or you could have just seen your first show, or maybe you’ve never seen a Broadway show. It doesn’t matter. Other years at BroadwayCon they’ve embraced the line from West Side Story, “There’s a place for us” and that’s so true. It’s true about BroadwayCon and it’s true about the Broadway (fan) community. Broadway brings people together. Just look around BroadwayCon where you’re never far from a sing-a-long!

And there’s no denying the Broadway fan community is a vital part of the Broadway community as a whole. That’s one of the unique things about it. The audience (and therefore the fans) are an integral part of its existence. This is something else that came up multiple times when the stars were talking about why they love the theatre and Broadway. There’s a connection between the audience and the stage. You don’t really get that anywhere else!

Huge thank yous go to Melissa Anelli and Anthony Rapp for creating BroadwayCon in the first place and creating this wonderful place where we can gather (fans and professionals alike) to celebrate this things we love and publicly embrace our theatre geekiness! (And everyone else actually gets it!)

Every “fandom” has it’s own community but I think there’s something really special about the Broadway community, just look at the fact that Broadway itself is in New York but the fan base extends worldwide. Yes there is theatre around the world and Broadway shows make it outside of the city with tours and other productions but there’s nothing really like Broadway. Broadway is special. I’ve talked before about the drawbacks of this and it’s easy to focus on those (I know I do) but other times it’s nice to look at the positives and just enjoy being a fan!

Even outside of BroadwayCon, as I’m writing these blog posts this week and listening to SpongeBob and Once On This Island on repeat, I’m reminded of all the things I love about Broadway and theatre and being a Broadway fan. I love seeing show then going away and learning whatever I can about it, watching all of the YouTube videos, memorizing song lyrics and dancing around my apartment to my new favourite songs. When I went to the Drama Book Shop on this trip I wrote down the titles of the books I was interested in and I just got a bunch of them from the library here because I want to keep learning and I want to keep this Broadway mood going. I’m currently reading and really enjoying Bill Berloni’s book, Broadway Tails, having attended his panel at BroadwayCon. I’ve written before how I keep Broadway as a part of my life and just the fact that I am able to do so is a reason it’s great to be a Broadway fan. And I hope that with this blog I can continue to share my love of Broadway and the excitement that comes with being a fan, not just for those of you who read this but for myself as well!

 

Broadway Up Close

Broadway Up Close offers 5 different Broadway-related walking tours in New York City: Act I, Act II, Act III, The HamilTour, and The Ghostlight Tour.

I first heard about Broadway Up Close Walking Tours back in 2014 when looking for things to do in NYC and ended up taking both the Act I and Act II tours on that particular trip. We booked our Act I tour for a Sunday morning. We had so much fun on that first tour that, even though we thought it would be a complete long shot, we decided to see if it would be at all possible to book an Act II tour before we left on Monday (yes, the next day). To this day some of the best customer service I’ve ever experienced has come from booking these Broadway tours. When we were looking into booking the Act II tour we were sending emails between seeing the matinee of If/Then and the evening show of Rock of Ages to the owner of BUC, Tim Dolan, who was acting in a show at the time and responding during his intermission, and then finalising the details after all of the shows were done that night. In the end we were able to book a last minute Act II tour for the following morning.

Ever since I took those first two tours, every time they’ve announced a new tour (Act II, The HamilTour, The Ghostlight Tour), I knew I wanted to take them! I was really happy when I saw Broadway Up Close was going to have a booth at the BroadwayCon Marketplace this year. It was such a pleasure meeting Tim Dolan in person and that is where I was able to book my third tour with the company, the HamilTour. I was leaving the city the Monday night after BroadwayCon but had time to fill during the day and when I saw that the HamilTour was offered on Mondays, I knew I wanted to take it! At their booth I was also able to pick up a copy of the Act I Souvenir Program, which hadn’t been available when I took the tour. I’m looking forward to reading through it and re-experiencing the stories I heard on that first tour!

All three of the tour I’ve taken have been both extremely interesting and entertaining. I always love learning theatre history and these tours are such a great way to do so. The Act I and II tours take you around to certain theatres and locations in the Broadway area sharing relevant history, ghost stories, fun facts and other stories. The HamilTour takes you to parts of Hamilton’s New York (which was actually an area of New York I had not really explored before), tying in the real life history and locations to the Broadway musical (both with regards to major plot points and smaller details), while also making connections with the design elements of show and sharing other facts and stories about the musical. I’ve learned a lot of American history from Hamilton and from reading about the show (we don’t generally learn much American history here in Canada) and I learned even more on the HamilTour.

Every interaction I’ve had with anyone from BUC has been extremely positive, both when booking the tours and on the tours themselves, and you can tell there is excellent communication between everyone at BUC. At the end of out Act I tour we had spent some time talking to our Green Team Guide, Mikey, and it came up how I am interested in the backstage side of theatre. Then for our Act II tour they organized it so that one of the Guides who is also a stage manager would lead our tour. It was such a nice touch. You can tell they really care about the people who take the tours and the extra touches, like setting up a tour with a specific tour guide or things as simple as just remembering where you’re from and if you’ve taken their tours before, make the experience all the more personal. I was even given hand warmers for the HamilTour. And on top of that they obviously care about the tours themselves. Not only are all of the tour guides extremely knowledgeable, you can tell they care about what they’re talking about.

Both my Act II tour and HamilTour ended up being private tours (Act II was me, my mom and our Guide, Theresa, and the HamilTour was just me and the Guide, Cary) and it made them both really fun experiences and even more personal! It was fun getting all of the information and seeing all of the sights while also being able to go off on tangents and discuss different things as they came up.

If you’re ever looking for something to do in New York and you love theatre and the history that goes with it I can’t recommend these tours enough! I personally can’t wait to go back to New York and cross the other two tours (Act III and The Ghostlight Tour) off my list! (And I would happily take any of the tours again!)

img_3224.jpgThe Act I Souvenir Program & My Lanyard From the HamilTour

 

They Tell the Story

And they tell it so well!

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After the BroadwayCon Closing Ceremony I made my way back to TKTS to get tickets to a Sunday night show, this time going in knowing and getting a ticket for my top choice: Once On This Island.

This show was very different from SpongeBob, but I also loved it, so much! Like SpongeBob I didn’t know the show going in to it. I was an Ahrens and Flaherty fan already (particularly Anastasia (movie and musical) and Rocky) but I wasn’t that familiar with this show that had been their Broadway debut. It also felt like a fitting show with which to end the day after attending the “Journey to the Island” panel at BroadwayCon and meeting Lynn Ahrens at the BroadwayCon Marketplace.

Once On This Island is playing at Circle in the Sqaure. I’ve seen one other show there (Godspell in 2012) and it was cool seeing the space with a different set up. It was still in the round but the space was completely transformed. While Godspell had a circular wooden stage, Once On This Island has a longer, oval, almost rectangular, shaped stage area with sand covering the floor and a pool of water at one end. I knew it was a versatile space but it was cool actually getting to experience it. Theatre in the round also always offers such a unique experience. You can’t help but notice the other audience members and you know that each seat in the theatre offers a different viewing experience. I would love to go back and see it again from a different spot (and just to see it again in general).

I am a fan of Michael Arden’s so I was really happy to actually see a show he directed and it was such a beautiful show. The set, the staging, the music, the lighting, it was all so good! I love when the movement of the set, and in the case of this show some of the lighting, is part of the performance. The actors moved set pieces, lit candles, created all these different moments. They’re telling this story and the way they set the scenes becomes a part of that.

One of my favourite scenes was with the song “Rain”  particularly the staging for “Rain.” The way they created the image of a car with the combination of individual pieces and the dramatic ending of the scene with the lighting and rain falling onto the stage. It was stunning. Each time I listen to the original cast recording I remember so many amazing moments, if I tried to write them out it would probably just end up as a description of the entire show!

Now let’s talk about this cast! The talent on that stage was amazing to witness. Hailey Kilgore was wonderful as Ti Moune (and she’s making her Broadway debut!). Isaac Powell is great as Daniel. The ensemble are all incredible. And the gods: Tamyra Grey as Papa Ge, Norm Lewis (who was actually my first Phantom) as Agwe, Alex Newell as Asaka and Lea Salonga as Erzulie. Wow! I’m so happy that I got to see Leas perform live! I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time and to even just be in the same room as her was amazing. Speaking of amazing, Alex Newell’s Asaka is incredible. I saw Alex sing “Mama Will Provide” twice that day, once at BroadwayCon and then during the show and it was outstanding both times (and there was a matinee between those too, so if he had to sing it three times that day, that is impressive!). The gods each brought such a commanding presence on the stage, even when they were just watching the scenes playing out before them (which makes sense since they are the gods) and just brought such strong performances all around.

It’s interesting going back and listening to the original cast recording, now being more familiar with the revival especially hearing the original Papa Ge and Asaka. Originally Papa Ge was played by a man (Eric Riley) whereas Tamyra Grey (and Merle Dandridge, whom Tamyra replaced due to a contractual leave) plays that character in the revival and Alex Newell (who is gender non-conforming) is playing Asaka, a part originally played by a woman (Kecia Lewis). I think that’s one of the great things about this revival, and theatre in general, the ability to switch things up and add new elements to the characters. There’s no reason why the “Demon of Death” can’t be played by a woman and the “Mother of the Earth” be played by someone who is gender non-conforming. And like I mentioned before, their performances are incredible!I cannot wait for the release of the revival cast recording later this month!!

If you get a chance I would highly recommend seeing this show and experiencing the beautiful storytelling that is brought to the stage.

You’ve also got to love a show that includes a chicken and goats in its cast!

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I’m so happy that both of the shows I saw on this trip are part of the current Broadway season. It’s going to make things even more exciting come Tony time!

Not A Simple Sponge (& Broadway Sessions)

I went in to SpongeBob with few, if any expectations. I had heard good things about the show so I hoped they were true but I certainly didn’t go in to it as a SpongeBob fan. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen a full episode of SpongeBob. I’ve seen clips, memes and have some familiarity with the characters, but a fan I was not. You might be wondering why, then, did I go see a SpongeBob musical if I didn’t care about SpongeBob? Well for one thing, as I mentioned, I had heard only good things about the show and then all of the clips I saw made it look really cool, with the set and the staging standing out. And the cast. I was familiar with some of the cast members already and those with whom I wasn’t familiar also seemed good. I was also intrigued knowing that so many artists had contributed to the music (I had not yet listened to the cast recording). I wanted to see what the hype was all about and, let me tell you, I was not disappointed!

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SpongeBob wasn’t technically our first choice of show to see. Initially we tried a few digital lotteries (HamiltonDear Evan HansenSweeney Todd, and, actually, SpongeBob). We did not win any of those so we went with plan B: TKTS. There we were deciding between Hello Dolly and SpongeBob. (2 very different shows!) We couldn’t decide between the two so we decided we’d go with whichever had cheaper tickets and then it turned out that Hello Dolly did not have two tickets together, so SpongeBob it was! And I have zero regrets.

Right off the bat you’re brought into the world of the musical with the design extending to the whole theatre. There’s the “Bikini Bottom Boutique” in the lobby, shiny/shimmering material covering the walls in the house, and ambient lighting filling the orchestra. As soon as you get to your seats you’re in Bikini Bottom.

The inclusion of the whole space even extends to the confetti cannons that are used in the show. Every time I’ve seen confetti used in a show, it’s at the front of the stage and the front half of the orchestra gets hit with it. Not at SpongeBob. They have confetti at the back of the orchestra too! We were sitting in row “T” and we were covered with confetti. (And, honestly, I was really happy about it!)

All of the design elements of the show were amazing. The set, the lighting, the costumes. It was just so good! I think it worked really well with the costumes not being literal representations of the original characters. Sandy doesn’t need a tail, SpongeBob doesn’t need to be square. You still get the picture and you believe it! The Squidward costume was really cool as he did have four legs. (I wonder how many prototypes they had to go though to get them to look and work just right!) And the fact that he has a full tap number with these extra legs/feet is even more impressive. It’s also just a really great number! Gavin Lee is amazing!

I also need to take a moment to talk about the Foley Design for this show. Yes, besides having a sound designer SpongeBob also has a Foley Designer who is creating all of the sound effects live in the theatre. And there are a lot of them! For example SpongeBob and Squidward both have sound effects when they walk, with each step. It adds to the cartoon-ish element of the show and enhances it in a great way! The cast talked about it a bit at their BroadwayCon panel and Lilli Cooper (Sandy) showed that “booth” in one of the vlogs she made for Broadway.com. The more I hear about it the more impressed and fascinated I am by it. I am so glad that it was announced that the Sound Designer (Walter Trarbach) and the Foley Designer (Mike Dobson) will be jointly eligible to be nominated for the Sound Design Tony! (Thank goodness that award is back!)

“(Just a) Simple Sponge” was one of the many stand out moments from the show. The staging was so simple (though complex in the choreography) but so beautiful. All of the elements- the song, the choreography, the lighting, the props (lots of sponges)- combined to make this great moment. And Ethan’s performance of the song was wonderful! There’s another moment with SpongeBob and a bunch of ladders that is a stand out scene, but I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t say any more about it! If you get the chance to see the show you’ll know what I’m talking about!

The role of SpongeBob seems like such a demanding one, vocally and physically and requires such high energy all the time. Ethan does an amazing job, and it’s his Broadway debut! I never thought I’d see a day when I would think someone playing SpongeBob SquarePants should be nominated for a Tony, but here we are. Seriously though, he better get a nomination!

The whole cast is amazing. I already mentioned Gavin Lee as Squidward. There’s Danny Skinner who is also making his wonderful Broaday debut as Patrick. Lilli Cooper plays an awesome Sandy. And there’s Wesley Taylor who plays Plankton. I was already a fan of his going in to the show and I’m even more of a fan now! He was so good! The rest of the cast too all brought amazing performances to the stage. I can’t get over how great it was!

I mentioned before that I was intrigued by the music for SpongeBob. I knew that a lot of artists had contributed to the score (and a lot of big names) so I was interested to see how it would all go together. It was clear that there were different styles to the music and for some songs it was obvious which artist had written that particular song, but even so, it still felt like a cohesive piece. All of the songs “fit” together in the show. Kudos to Tom Kitt for such an achievement! I’ve been listening to the cast recording almost constantly since seeing the show!

Even though I don’t watch the TV show and didn’t “get” all of the inside jokes (though I was aware of where they were in the show) I never really felt left out by it or like I was missing something, especially because they were funny moments anyway.

I’ve heard the word joy (and joyful) used to describe this show and it’s so true. It’s such a joyful show but at the same time it deals with some very relevant topics. It is by no means just a show for children, though children clearly enjoy it too (there were a lot of them in the audience that night and there was a really cute moment when you could hear one kid say “Yay!” when there was a pause in dialogue at a particularly happy moment). I do really think it’s a show that all ages and levels of SpongeBob fans can enjoy! It was such a fun night at the theatre and I’m so glad I had the chance to see it! (And I was able to check another Broadway theatre, the Palace Theatre, off my list!)

26993659_10159780334875262_2807368286443544769_n(Yes, I kept some of the confetti. Some of it on purpose, some of it not.)

Broadway Sessions

As a bonus after seeing SpongeBob we decided to attend Broadway Sessions at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. I had never been to a Broadway Sessions show before but was aware of it from social media and videos. Ben Cameron hosts these variety type shows every Thursday night and I am a big fan of his from BroadwayCon. When I was looking at things to do in New York I saw that they had a show when we were there, which just happened to be their first show back after a hiatus. And the SpongeBob cast was going to be there. After we bought our tickets for SpongeBob it felt even more fitting to check it out! So we bought our tickets online and after our time in Bikini Bottom we went over to the Laurie Beechman Theatre to keep the Broadway fun going. It was so much fun! I was so excited to finally be attending one of these shows and it was really fun seeing the cast we had just seen in another setting.  There were performances from cast members and a couple of the dressers from the show performed as well. There was also a performance from a kid in the audience who played piano and sang “(Just a) Simple Sponge” with Brian Ray Norris (Mr. Krabs) doing his part of the song and the rest of the cast singing back up. It was a wonderful moment! I had such a fun night and I hope I can go to another Broadway Sessions show in the future!

 

 

 

 

BroadwayCon 2018

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BroadwayCon this year took place on January 26-28. Fortunately I was able to go for the third year in a row and got to spend a Broadway-filled weekend in one of my favourite cities. If you are not aware, BroadwayCon is a 3 day (Friday-Sunday) convention full of Broadway-related programming: panels, performances, meet and greets, and so much more! The last two years the convention has taken place at the Javits Center in New York City (the first year it was at the New York Hilton Midtown). This post will highlight my favourite experiences from this year’s convention (which I have organized by event type)!

MainStage Events

MainStage events at BroadwayCon include a bit of everything. There were panels, performances, games, and more fun Broadway-related activities! Some amazing moments took place on that stage!

  • The BroadwayCon 2018 Opening Ceremony (Friday)
    This was the first MainStage event of the weekend and my first event at BroadwayCon besides autographs, a photo and wandering around the Marketplace. The Opening started with Billy Porter, Betsy Wolfe, Anthony Rapp and Ben Cameron singing “On Broadway.” Other performances included Betsy Wolfe singing “Meadowlark,” Kelli O’Hara singing “Pure Imagination,” and Billy Porter singing “And the World Goes ‘Round.” I was especially excited to see Kelli O’Hara perform!We also got to sing “Happy Birthday” to the Phantom with Ben Cameron onstage in a cape and Phantom mask.
  • ¡Attención! In the Heights Reunites 10 Years Later (Friday)
    The Opening Ceremony was followed by the In the Heights reunion panel. I am a big In the Heights fan and when I heard there was going to be a reunion panel this year, I knew I had to be there! The panel included Janet Dacal, Chris Jackson, Mandy Gonzalez, Karen Olivo, Olga Merediz, Priscilla Lopez, Seth Stewart, Javier Muñoz, Quiara A Hudes, and Lin-Manuel Miranda and was moderated by Luis A Miranda Jr (Lin’s Dad). I always love hearing background information and inside stories from shows. Everyone on the panel talked about their involvement with the show and where in the process they became involved. They talked about the changes that occurred throughout the process and even gave some snippets of cut songs! It was really fun seeing Karen Olivo just as excited as everyone for Chris to sing part of Benny’s cut song. Lin even jumped on the piano to play a little bit of another cut song! It was such a great panel. And Luis Miranda is wonderful!
  • Show Spotlight: CHICAGO- The Landmark Institution of Razzle Dazzle (Friday)
    I have never actually seen Chicago live. I have seen (and like) the movie but I have not seen the stage production. But when I saw the legends that were taking part in this panel, I knew I wanted to see it. Joel Grey, Bebe Neuwirth, William Ivey Long (the amazing costume designer) and Kandi Burruss (who just joined the cast) were on the panel with Paige Davis moderating. It’s also worth noting that Joel Grey came out wearing the Phantom mask that had been used in the Opening. It was so interesting hearing about the show at different points of its 21 year run. Hearing how the costumes have changed, how it went from an Encores production to the full revival, it was fascinating!
  • Show Spotlight: Frozen (Friday)
    I was already excited about Frozen coming to Broadway but I’m even more excited after having attended this panel! Greg Hildreth, who will be playing Olaf, was moderating with Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez talking about the show and previewing bits of the new songs. They also announced that 4 of the new songs will be released weekly starting February 23rd and having heard the previews I am very excited for these releases! The panel ended with Greg singing “In Summer” and it was great!
  • I’m Here: Celebrating the Leading Women of Broadway (Friday)
    You’ve got to love a panel full of amazing women. This was another moment when it was great just to be in the same room as these people. Jennifer Tepper moderated with Ruthie Ann Miles, Vanessa Williams, Priscilla Lopez, LaChanze, and Janet Dacal filling out the panel. Hearing them talk about their careers (and they’re all at such different points in their careers) was amazing. I also like when Jennifer Tepper moderates panels because she is so knowledgeable and passionate about all things Broadway (and is another successful woman in the theatre world).
  • BroadwayCon Jukebox (Friday)
    This one is always fun. Broadway stars come “prepared” with four song options and the audience gets to vote on which one they will sing. This year Janet Dacal, LaChanze, Anthony Rapp, Max Crumm and Kathryn Gallagher took part. They were all great with highlights including Anthony Rapp singing “Valerie” (the closest I will ever get to being serenaded by Anthony Rapp and yes, I voted for that song and yes, I got video!) and Kathryn Gallagher singing “Totally F*****” (as soon as there was a Spring Awakening option, it was obvios it would be picked). LaChanze’s daughter also made an appearance during Kathryn’s second song, “You Oughta Know.”
  • BroadwayCon Feud (Saturday)
    Another staple BroadwayCon event, the BroadwayCon Feud is a Broadway centred version of Family Feud with teams made up of Broadway stars and BroadwayCon attendees. This year Hannah Elless, Denée Benton, Patrick Hinds, Donna Lynne Champlin and James Snyder took part with the amazing Jenn Colella once again acting as host. It’s always interesting to see what the answers end up being. The results come from polling Broadway fans but they aren’t always what you expect or think they should be, which in some ways makes it more entertaining!
  • Show Spotlight: Dear Evan Hansen (Saturday)
    I have not yet seen Dear Evan Hansen (someday!!) but I was interested to attend this panel. I actually missed the Dear Evan Hansen panel last year. This year the panel included book writer, Steven Levenson and the two replacement Evans, Noah Galvin and Taylor Trensch. It was interesting to hear from Noah and Taylor about coming in as replacements and I always love when the writers are a part of show panels. A big take away from this panel was that I still really really want to see Dear Evan Hansen!
  • Show Spotlight: SpongeBob SqaurePants (Saturday)
    I actually had an autograph session at this same time but having just seen SpongeBob I did not want to miss their panel and I’m really glad I didn’t! There were two parts to the panel. The first part included cast members Danny Skinner (Patrick), Ethan Slater (SpongeBob), Gavin Lee (Squidward), Brian Ray Norris (Mr. Krabs) and Wesley Taylor (Plankton). Again, it was fun hearing about all of their experiences with the show (Danny, Ethan and Brian are making their Broadway debuts with this show). They also talked a little about the foley work in the show (the live sound effects) and I’m just so impressed the more I hear about it (there are a lot of sound effects in that show). The cast then had to leave because they had a matinee that day and the second part of the panel featured Tom Kitt (music supervisor) and Tina Landau (director) and it was even more fascinating hearing from them, talking about how the show came about in the way it did both in terms of the direction and the music (which was provided by a plethora of artists). I also later found out Tina was wearing a shirt with the Electric Skates (the fictional band from SpongeBob) on it and SpongeBob shoes.
  • Theater People Live Featuring Laura Benanti (Saturday)
    I was really excited for this one. Theater People is one of my favourite podcasts and I am also a fan of Laura Benanti so the two combined meant there was no question of me attending this one! I really like Patrick Hinds’ (the host of Theater People) podcast style and I love getting to see him at BroadwayCon. Laura is not only extremely talented she is also really funny and I was so excited to see her in person! It was great hearing them talk about everything- stage, TV, Melania, parenthood. (She also came onstage wearing the Phantom mask from the Opening.)
  • Broadway Game Night (Saturday)
    This was the last event Saturday night and it was another exciting “game show” type event on the MainStage. This one put the Sharks (Alex Brightman, Sierra Boggess, Ann Harada and 2 BroadwayCon attendees) against the Jets (Brandon Uranowitz, Lesli Margherita, Emily Skeggs and 2 BroadwayCon attendees)  with Anthony Rapp acting as score keeper and Ben Cameron as host. The rounds included name-that-tune, listing things (ie. Andrew Lloyd Webber show, Sondheim shows, etc) in 30 seconds, Don’t Forget the Lyrics (where they had to finish the line of a song), Pyramid (one team member getting another to say a specific word), and a question round with videos of Kristin Chenoweth asking questions about Kristin Chenoweth. It was a very entertaining evening, especially when Sierra and Lesli were against each other. They did not know a lot of the answers. It was also quite entertaining when the audience knew the answers and those onstage did not, which actually happened a lot. I also loved that Alex and Sierra were on the same team since they had been in School of Rock together.
  • Journey to the Island: A Celebration of Ahrens and Flaherty (Sunday)
    This particular panel featured Lynn Ahrens, Christy Altomare, and Hailey Kilgore. I am an Ahrens and Flaherty fan and loved Christy Altomare in Anastasia so, again, there was no question of my wanting to attend this panel. The focus of the panel was Anastasia and Once On This Island and the strong female characters in each show. I was less familiar with Once On This Island going in to it but I loved hearing about both shows and hearing from Lynn Ahrens about these, and their other shows, was so great! We were also treated to two performances. Christy Altomare sang “In My Dreams” from Anastasia, and there was a suprise appearance and performance from Alex Newell who sang “Mama Will Provide” from Once On This Island (with Lynn and Hailey singing backup!). I already knew I wanted to see Once On This Island but this panel did make me want to see it even more!
  • BroadwayCon First Look (Sunday)
    This is always an exciting part of BroadwayCon during which upcoming Broadway shows are featured. This year there were performances from and features on The Prom (2 songs were performed), Children of a Lesser GodGettin’ the Band Back Together (2 songs were performed), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (video from rehearsals), and Escape to Margaritaville (2 songs were performed). I had heard about a couple of these productions beforehand but it was great hearing more about them and the other productions. It sounds like it’s going to be an entertaining year on Broadway!
  • The Closing Ceremony (Sunday)
    The final event of the weekend. It’s always a bit sad getting to that point but it’s inevitable and they always know how to leave it. One particularly great moment had Denée Benton onstage where they talked about how her casting in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 was announced at the first BroadwayCon at which she also sang “No One Else” from the show. She then proceeded to once again sing “No One Else, ” and it was beautiful and made me miss that show more! Stephanie J. Block also came onstage for a bit. The winners of the first ever BroadwayCon Lip Sync Battle performed, with Ben Cameron filling in for a member of the group who was sick. The whole thing ended with all of the BroadwayCon staff onstage and everyone onstage and in the audience singing along to “On Broadway.”
  • Fan Centred Events
    Throughout the weekend there were some other events on the Mainstage that you could describe as more “fan centred” (and usually hosted by Ben). There were YouTube Parties, which was just Broadway videos being shown on the big screens with everyone singing along. There was the first annual Lip Sync Battle. Though I didn’t attend them there were also cosplay and “rising star” events that took place on the MainStage.

Panels

When it comes to the panels at BroadwayCon there are so many to choose from on any number of Broadway and general theatre related topics. Sometimes it was hard to decide which panel to go to, they all sounded so interesting and I missed some I wish I could have attended! Whether you are interested in the onstage or offstage side of things, or general fandom, there are panels for everyone! A cool added feature this year was the rooms for the panels: each one was named after a woman from theatre history!

A favourite panel that I attended was called “From Annie to Because of Winn Dixie, A Training Demonstration or Broadway’s Most Famous Canine Actors with Bill Berloni” and featured Bill Berloni (the Broadway dog trainer) and some dogs of the stage. There was Macy, who was Sandy in the most recent Annie revival; Dusty, who played Toto in a production of The Wizard of Oz; Chico, the original Bruiser from Legally Blonde (the first dog to have “lines” in a Broawday musical); Trixie, who has the most Broadway credits of the dogs there having appeared in Bullets Over Broadway as well as another play; and Bowdie who was in Peter Pan Live, Sesame Street (Mr. Noodle’s dog) and who will be in Because of Winn Dixie. During the panel Bill talked about getting all of the dogs (who are all rescues!), training them for each of their roles and the unique requirements for each role and the varying commands (vocal, visual) that go with it. It was fascinating (and adorable) to watch when he demonstrated the “tricks” with each dog!

Autographs, Photos & Celebrity Sightings

At BroadwayCon autograph and photo booth opportunities are given out via lottery system. (Though if you get the more expensive tickets you get some guaranteed autographs/photos.) You enter the lottery ahead of time by picking which autographs and/or photos you are interested in from a list, ranking those from most to least interested and then it is up to the lottery system to pick which one(s) you get. I lucked out this year and got quite a few including some of my top choices! My Friday morning was actually spent mostly in autograph and photo lines, this being one of the time where I had to choose between autographs or panels and I went with autographs! I got a photo with and autograph from Ben Fankhauser (original Davey in Newsies on Broadway and Barry Mann in the Beautiful tour) which I was extremely excited about! I got him to sign a programme from the Toronto run of the Beautiful tour, which I don’t think he was expecting! It was a great conversation starter! I also got autographs from Donna Murphy, Liz Callaway, Tim Federle and Jennifer Tepper. It was definitely an exciting weekend for autographs! (And Tim Federle sang my name when I was getting his autograph, which also made my day!)

One of the fun things with BroadwayCon is also just seeing Broadway stars walking around whether on their way to a panel or an autograph or photo session or a specific booth in the Marketplace or just wandering. I saw Betsy Wolfe, Sydney Lucas, Alex Brightman, Andrew Kober, Laura Osnes and so many more. And that’s how I met Lynn Ahrens. We were walking around the Marketplace and I happened to have just bought a flower made out of a Rocky Playbill when we walked by Lynn Ahrens. I couldn’t resist going back to meet her and have her sign the flower. The timing couldn’t have been better and it was a definite highlight of the weekend!

Marketplace Highlights

As much as the panels and everything else I was also really excited to spend time (and money) at the BroadwayCon Marketplace. Some of my favourite stops included:

  • Scenery Bags- They sell bags made out of the backdrops from (closed) shows. I went in knowing I wanted to buy these (one for me and one for my mom) and as soon as I saw that they had bags made from a Rocky backdrop I knew I would be buying those!
  • Broadway Green Alliance/SomeOtherMe- I already have a collection of Playbill flowers from SomeOtherMe and I knew I would be adding to that collection at BroawdayCon. By the end of the weekend I had picked up Bandstand, Rocky, and Phantom of the Opera flowers as well as two “I rescue Playbills” tote bags!!
  • Lights of Broadway Show Cards- I actually started my card collection at the first BroadwayCon and, again, I went into the weekend with the intention of adding to my collection, which was exactly what I did! And of course I had to pick up the BroadwayCon exclusive cards! (At this point the cards do not ship outside of the US, so I have to take the chances I can get to pick more up!)
  • I was also excited to stop by the TeeRico booth, where I picked up two notebooks. (TeeRico offering merchandise that is officially licensed by Lin-Manuel Miranda.)

There was so much to look at in the Marketplace! I obviously couldn’t buy everything I liked but it was a lot of fun to walk around looking at everything and being surrounded by all of these things I can’t always get back home. There’s also a great atmosphere to the Marketplace. There’s excitement in the air. The excitement of finding the merchandise you were looking for or didn’t know you were looking for, the excitement of seeing your favourite Broadway stars walking around. It’s a great place! (Though dangerous for the wallet!) The BroadwayCon Museum was also in the Marketplace which was a cool place to see bits of Broadway history both old and new (costume pieces, set models, props, lighting paperwork, and more!)

Cosplay is also prevalent at BroadwayCon. Seeing all of the amazing costumes that people come with makes me wish I had the talent, time, tools and budget to create costumes like that! There were a lot of impressive ones! If I were to cosplay (in general) I would want to be a character from a musical, and have actually for a few Halloweens, but at least at BroadwayCon people would actually get it!

I had such a great weekend at BroadwayCon and I already can’t wait to see what next year has in store!

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(If you have any questions about BroadwayCon or want to know more about any of the particular panels let me know!)