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!

 

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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

 

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!)

 

The Thrill of Trip Planning

I’ve been planning what has become my annual trip to New York City (for BroadwayCon). It’s always such an exciting thing planning these trips- thinking about the shows you want to see while you’re there and the other locations you want to visit. With the BroadwayCon centred trips, the convention itself takes up the majority of the time, which is by no means a bad thing! But it does limit the time available for show and sight seeing, so there is a little bit of strategy involved in the planning. What can we fit in when not at BroadwayCon and what shows are at the top of our “want to see” list? For me, show planning usually means coming up with a few options because I usually end up going to TKTS to try to get discounted tickets! This year we’re going to try for a couple of digital lotteries, with TKTS being a backup plan for when we don’t win those (we’re entering for Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen so I know the odds of us winning will be quite slim, but there’s no harm in trying!!).

It’s fun to leave some time open for just wandering around the city but I do have some specific locations/stores I like to visit when I’m there. Three of my top places to visit are: Schmackary’s, The Drama Book Shop, and Theatre Circle. Schmackary’s has amazing cookies and I’m planning on making a couple stops there on this trip! I have yet to have any Broadway actor sightings there, but maybe some day! The Drama Book Shop the combination of two of my favourite things in one wonderful place: theatre and books. Even if I don’t buy anything it feels great to just wander around (and add more to my ever growing list of books I want to read). Sure Theatre Circle could be considered as quite a touristy shop but I love anywhere I can buy Broadway merchandise! With BroadwayCon though I do have to keep the Market Place in mind as it is another great place to pick up Broadway merch! This year I know I’m especially going to be on the lookout for Bandstand and Great Comet related items! Sure, my wallet might not be to thrilled having to deal with the exchange rate but if that’s what it takes to be surrounded by all things Broadway, it’s a price I’m willing to pay!

New York is one of my favourite cities and I love that I’ve been able to go there more frequently. As I go more and more often, the more I learn about the city and am able to navigate my way around better and better, particularly in the Times Square/Theatre District. It’s quite satisfying actually knowing my way around! Some of my happiest memories of late have taken place in New York City and I can’t wait to add even more from this trip!

What about those of you who are reading this blog, do you have any go-to New York locations? Any recommendations??

 

 

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

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