Blog: New York Theatre Guide attends BroadwayCon 2019
Our writer Brittany Crowell reports from the biggest theatre fan convention on the planet...
My experience at BroadwayCon 2019 was full of acceptance, enthusiasm, encouragement, and a shared love of musical theater. Young or old, Broadway fan or aspiring star, there was something for everyone at the various panels, first looks, autograph sessions, and the two-floor Broadway Marketplace.
Walking through the conference, fans were surrounded by their favorite characters, sounds, and songs. Amongst the guests, I spotted Bombalurina, a few Glindas and Christines, a fabulous purple Hamilton, and even a cosplay Barnum, hoping to see "The Greatest Showman" on a Broadway stage soon. You couldn’t walk through the marketplace or the hallways of the midtown Hilton without hearing sounds of RENT, Éponine hopefuls belting “On My Own,” or fans pulling deep cuts from musicals like Bat Boy or classics like Sweeney Todd and The King and I.
Many of the guests I spoke to came from abroad to be part of the open and accepting conference community. “People are so nice and respectful here. I wish I could bottle it up and bring it back to Ireland with me,” said Maja, a guest who was perusing the marketplace with two other friends. I also spoke to Zoey and Jaxon, two young fans who were “surprised at how diverse [the con] was. It’s not just one age, you get to see all the different versions of what Broadway should be in everyone’s minds, and all these versions come together and make something really beautiful.”
While the conference attendees were diverse in age, the Marketplace had many booths tailored to the aspiring Broadway talent: dance classes, summer programs, and after-school training with Broadway celebrity artists. There were also plenty of booths containing Broadway swag for sale: from custom character dolls to jewelry, to tote bags, to color-your-own postcards, there were souvenirs for every fan to take home with them.
I also had an opportunity to see two panels at BroadwayCon, a “Spotlight” on My Fair Lady, and a panel celebrating the 75th anniversary of Oklahoma! on Broadway, exploring the nature of the upcoming revival and how the musical has taken new shape in today’s theatrical landscape.
“Spotlights” are the newest highlight of the conference and feature a panel of cast members from each show, giving fans an insight into their process and the dramaturgy behind their performances. During the Spotlight on My Fair Lady, newest cast member and six-time Tony Award nominee Danny Burstein (who plays Alfred Doolittle) even commented, “sitting on this panel has been amazing for me, because I’m learning so much!” New shows such as, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Be More Chill also hosted Spotlights, giving fans a deeper look behind the scenes of their favorite new shows.
One special treat for theatre enthusiasts was the Con’s “First Look,” where conference attendees got a sneak peek at songs from shows coming to Broadway this spring - Beetlejuice, Kiss Me, Kate!, Hadestown, Tootsie, and Moulin Rouge! Fans lined up outside the Hilton Ballroom two hours before the showing to get a good seat. The final encouragement from host, Julie Halston (also a cast member of Tootsie), “Get TICKETS!”
The conference closed out with a singalong to stars’ favorite Youtube musical moments, including “The Wizard and I” on The Today Show, the Tony performance of In The Heights, and a guest visit by Youtube star, Adrian Matthew, who treated everyone to his famous rendition of “She Used to be Mine.” In true musical nerd style, audience members jumped up and joined onstage to sing their favorite songs, each trying to out-show the other, while celebrating new friends and their shared love for Broadway.
(Photos by Amanda Chambers)