Hey everyone! It’s time to get back to regularly updating this blog, so here I am.
I was lucky enough to be in New York City for the first ever BroadwayCon, a convention for all things Broadway. I just got back this morning at 3 am after an 8 1/2 hour bus ride, and I really wanted to share my experience with all of you!
I had a total blast. I went with two very good friends of mine, Daisy and Ale (funny enough, we actually met last October at the Hamilton CD signing – yeah, that was a good day, too). All right, here we go:
BroadwayCon was actually my first convention, and I was pretty nervous about it, because I don’t usually do well in large crowds. Luckily, I think I had too much fun to notice!
Highlights of Friday definitely included the Spring Awakening panel. SA is one of my favourite shows of all time, and this revival (which just closed Sunday night, and that I was lucky enough to catch) is probably my favourite production of all time. For those of you who don’t know, this revival involves both hearing and Deaf actors and is performed in both English and ASL. It’s truly gorgeous (Michael Arden seriously deserves the Tony for Best Director, although everything will be overshadowed by Hamilton this season…). The cast is absolutely lovely, and it was so nice to see them at the con.
There was a GREAT panel on queer women in theatre (a topic very close to me) led by Fredi Walker (Johanne in Rent), Roberta Colindrez (Joan in Fun Home), and Ariana Debose (Hamilton).
I was a little underwhelmed by the opening ceremony, but that may have been because I had sucky seats. I didn’t catch any of the cameos, and I didn’t even recognize Lesli Margherita, who was onstage for the majority of the time.
Luckily, the Rent panel to celebrate its 20th anniversary made up for all that. It was really emotional, as the cast members were talking about the late Jonathan Larson, who wrote the show. Anthony Rapp was especially emotional, as he was very close to Jonathan and had a huge part in running the convention. I really felt like that moment was history in the making.
Oh yeah, there was the Hamilton panel. Lin-Manuel Miranda freestyled onstage. It was rad.
The day of the blizzard. It was a wild ride, because a lot of the stars who were supposed to show up never made it. I was really excited to meet Kerrigan-Lowdermilk, an amazing composer-lyricist team, but they never made it. I did get to meet Joe Iconis at the Songwriters on Songwriting panel, another musical composer I idolize, and that was incredible.
The Fun Home panel was also a highlight, mostly because of Emily Skeggs being adorable as always. It was also really cool to see Lisa Kron, lyricist and bookwriter, who is also one of my heroes.
Saturday was mostly the day of technical panels, so although I enjoyed it A LOT, there’s not a whole lot worth writing down. I learned about stage management, about production assistants, about less-successful shows and why they didn’t stick around on Broadway. Very cool stuff.
The day ended with an incredible performance by Krysta Rodriguez, who blew us all away with her unrehearsed songs. There was supposed to be a huge cabaret with lots of big names, but because of the storm, they couldn’t show up; it was amazing though, because Krysta took requests from the audience and the accompanist casually played along by looking up the songs on his iPad. There were a lot of crowd favourites (Safer, Breathe, and Blue Hair, which Joe Iconis played along to, of course). It was altogether a fantastic end to a fantastic day.
Sunday was the shortest day, but it was still loads of fun! I started off the day with a panel about adapting movies/plays/books/etc. for the stage, which included Laurence O’Keefe, who’s written shows like Bat Boy, Legally Blonde, and Heathers. Definitely a composer worth idolizing.
My favourite part of the day was the Smash panel, though. If you don’t know, Smash was a TV show from a couple of years ago about the making of Broadway musicals and featuring actual Broadway stars with songs by actual Broadway composers. It was a flawed show, but gosh darn it, it was fun. The season 2 producer led the panel, and he screened cut clips as well as shots from some of the coolest numbers from season 2, like “I Heard Your Voice in a Dream” and “Public Relations”. I feel so lucky to have been there, because it was incredible, especially since he was adamant that none of these clips could be filmed by the audience. It was truly a one-time occasion.
BroadwayCon also gave us a taste of the upcoming Broadway season, with performances from the cast of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 (a personal favourite of mine) and Tuck Everlasting.
Oh, and did I mention that Sara Bareilles showed up for the Waitress panel and did an impromptu performance of “She Used to Be Mine”? Crazy! The audience (including me) totally lost it.
All in all, it was an amazing, unforgettable weekend. The organizers did a great job of keeping the event running despite the storm, especially since it was the first ever convention of this kind. I think my favourite part of everything was that it gave me this sense that I belonged to the theatre community, and made it clear to me that I do have a place in it. It didn’t hurt that the weekend ended with the closing night performance of Spring Awakening, but that’s the subject of another blog post…
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! I definitely recommend BroadwayCon if you are, like me, a theatre fan desperate to be in a giant room full of other theatre fans. It’s pricey, but it’s an unforgettable experience.
Have a great week!
Alex Boniello, Krysta Rodriguez, Sandra Mae Frank, and Daniel Durant of Spring Awakening
Fredi Walker, Ariana Debose, Roberta Colindrez, and Maggie Keenan-Bolger
Original Rent Cast
Michael Cerveris, Emily Skeggs, Lisa Kron, and Judy Kuhn of Fun Home
In other news, I’ve started a YouTube channel called DaniLearnsASL, where I post short, personal video clips to help me along as I learn American Sign Language. If it’s your thing, check it out!