What's Broadway Con?
Broadway Con, also known as "theater's answer to comic con, for Broadway fans," is a three day long convention created by die-hard fans and professionals from New York City's vast theatre community to celebrate Broadway theatre.
What did I experience?
Cold doesn't even begin to describe the weather outside the Sunday I attended Broadway Con. The day before, a vicious blizzard by the name of Jonas had blanketed New York City with several feet of snow, leaving most people happily stranded indoors for the weekend, binge-watching Netflix in their heated apartments. But most people didn't have a day pass to the final day of the first ever Broadway Con. And so I ventured out of my house, bundled up and determined.
While I had originally planned to experience the end of the convention alone, I was glad to find out that my friend from high school and fellow theatre geek, Evan, had purchased a three-day pass, and so I made plans to meet up with her as soon as she arrived.
I got to the New York Hilton Midtown a quarter to 11:00 AM, and was kind of shocked that there was no line to speak of at Check-In. I was able to check my coat for free, and then my ticket was scanned and I was given a badge for the day along with a complementary bright yellow Broadway Con tote-bag.
I consulted the list of events for Sunday and spotted a panel titled, "Even if You're Little You Can Do A Lot: Broadway's Smallest Stars." I was sold. Thankfully, it started at 11:00 AM, so I was able to attend the entire panel. The kids ranged in age from 9 to 14 and possessed a maturity far beyond their years.
- There was a 14 year old girl who played the role of Annie in Broadway's most recent revival,
- there was a 14 year old boy and LaGuardia High School student (woop!) who's currently in The King and I,
- there was a 14 year old boy and PPAS student who's in Finding Neverland,
- there was a 10 year old girl who played Matilda on Broadway,
- and there was a 9 year old girl who is currently in Fun Home.
They looked the definition of regular kids and yet they already had super lengthy credits in a professional field that's home to mostly adults. All of the children spoke about their desire to be treated as equals in their working lives. So often they are treated like little kids and they expressed great respect for those they've worked with who were able to see beyond their youth. What impressed me more than anything was that on top of 8 show weeks, these kids are expected to keep on top of their school work. And they do!
After the panel let out, I met up with Evan and her two Skidmore friends, Rachel and Anabel. While Rachel dashed off to a dance panel, Evan, Anabel, and I attended a panel with the cast of Something Rotten. I've never seen the show, but I've heard great things and I've definitely heard about Christian Borle. The cast was super nice, but they were overshadowed in my mind by the fact that freaking Aunt Hilda from Sabrina the Teenage Witch was the moderator for the panel! Her sense of humor was wonderfully inappropriate, especially considering that the majority of people in the room were young teenage girls accompanied by their mothers.
After the Something Rotten panel, we caught back up with Rachel and met another high school friend of mine and Evan's, Vanessa. We all walked to the Applejack Diner where we got lunch, or in my case, breakfast. I devoured my Egg's Benedict in minutes. What can I say? Broadway Con can make a person work up an appetite.
After our lunch, we parted ways with Vanessa and returned to the Hilton. We decided to hit up the marketplace, the home of all the theatre and Broadway merch, games, and information a theatre geek could ask for.
One of the first things we did was play a game of theatre themed head's up, where the object of the game was to see who could guess the most theatre performers, Broadway shows, and theatre terms correctly in one minute. The record to beat was 11, and the winner would go home with a free T-shirt. Evan told me all about how during Broadway Con's previous two days, they were never able to guess any higher than 9. None of us wanted to leave the Con without winning. We each played once and scored either 8 or 9, before (reluctantly) moving on to the rest of the marketplace. However, before the end of the night, we couldn't help but give the game another try. And somehow Evan managed to guess 12 correctly (with our help, of course) and left with a free T-shirt after all!
We stopped at this booth where everyone had decorated the wall with colored paper microphones that read a wish or dare they had for themselves for the future. My wish/dare? PERFORM MORE.
The girls and I donned fun costume pieces and grabbed signs before gracing the cover of a playbill. Look out, Broadway!
Of course, I couldn't leave the marketplace without stopping to hang with the awesome peeps at the TDF booth.
The next event we went to was a sing along, and let's face it, as singers, we were looking forward to this event more than anything else. When they played "Hello" from Book of Mormon, and the lyrics were being screamed out in unison by everyone around me, I knew that this was where I was supposed to be.
After the sing along was the big finale, where Lena Hall (yes, LENA HALL) surprised us all by singing a show-stopping show tune, thus ending the first ever Broadway Con on a literal high note.