The day had barely begun and we could already hear the bells of BroadwayCon Feud! The Hamilton and Burr families (made up of fans and Broadway Stars alike) went head-to-head in this competitive game with kiss-happy host, Broadway actress Jenn Colella.
Next, we welcomed cast members of Kinky Boots for our “Everybody Say Yeah: Three Years of Kinky Boots” panel in order to celebrate this show that’s been changing minds since its opening. Todrick Hall shared stories of what he was like growing up, his connections to Simon and Lola, and what inspires him. Co-star Killian Donnelly talked about how the message of the show is universal: it can have an effect on anyone, anywhere.
Saturday’s programming also saw a myriad of fan meetups. The “International Theatre Fans Meetup” and the “Hamilton Meetup” were well-attended by con-goers who were thrilled to interact and share stories about their passions with like-minded fans. Hamilton fans even got a special surprise when writer/composer/actor/Academy Award Nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda FaceTimed in for a chat with fans. (Is there anything this man can’t do? He’s non-stop!)
Later, we were treated to a sneak peek into the story and characters of Speech and Debate, an upcoming film based on the play of the same name by Stephen Karam. The panel was moderated by Darren Criss, who makes a cameo in the film. The cast and creative teams discussed how the film was a comical way to face political scandals—the answer, obviously, is with singing and dancing to George Michael. In bodysuits. They also pointed out that this reference probably only makes sense if you see the movie. Thankfully, they let us know that the premier will take place in the American Airlines Theatre, and will stream online so everyone can attend!
Several panels today also touched on diversity, which is near and dear to us here at BroadwayCon. In the “Theatre Accessibility – Today and Beyond” panel, attendees learned about existing and upcoming initiatives in the Broadway community from a panel featuring members of the Theatre Development Fund and other behind-the-scenes professionals. These rockstars are dedicating their work to make the theatre an accessible and safe space for anyone who wants to attend.
“If there’s less accessibility, there is less opportunity & then there is less diversity, & consequently less ❤ in the theatre.” –@JW_Guido— BroadwayCon (@bwaycon) January 28, 2017
During “Someone in a Tree: Asian-American Representation on Broadway,” the panelists—including Erin Quill—talked about the different challenges that arise for Asian-Americans on Broadway. Manu Narayan said, “If you do see something you don’t like, don’t go. Write the New York Times… find their corporate sponsors.” B.D. Wong took the opportunity to discuss what a huge step it was to challenge the casting of Jonathan Pryce in Miss Saigon and what it meant for casting in the future.
Speaking of representation, there was also a panel called “Trans Representation in Theatre.” This talk featured panelists like Ty Defoe and Aneesh Sheth, who shined a spotlight on accepting trans cast and crew members into shows, and encouraging Broadway to open its mind to become more inclusive.
Later, during “Out on Broadway,” Nathan Lee Graham wisely said: “Whoever you are, become more of that.” Panelists Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Lisa Kron also shared personal stories of inspiration with the audience. Overall, the panel encouraged being yourself, being proud, and standing together—especially in the current political climate.
“It’s not just about hiring trans actors, but having trans people on the creative team. We all create art so why not be inclusive?” pic.twitter.com/SSAH7kcwEO— BroadwayCon (@bwaycon) January 28, 2017
And then it was “all aboard!” for an exclusive look at In Transit during “Getting There: In Transit.” Members of the creative team joined us to talk about the early beginnings of the musical, and how it stemmed from a group of friends who became an a cappella group. They discussed character development—including how characters were added and songs were cut on the journey to Broadway. Star Justin Guarini talked about how intricate every note and movement is throughout the show. This is one unique show that you won’t want to miss! (Just make sure you don’t hop the turnstyle.)
We were also thrilled to welcome Chita Rivera and Joel Grey to the MainStage today for their individual Q&As, and fans were extra delighted when Ms. Rivera made a surprise cameo in the latter session. Both Broadway legends discussed how they got their starts, as well as what inspired them. Joel Grey talked about his writing process from his 2016 memoir, Master of Ceremonies, and Chita Rivera shared her words of wisdom with her audience: “Don’t let your life go by without you knowing about it.”
The MainStage was the place to be for our first-ever “BroadwayCon Star to Be” competition. Contestants submitted entries online in late 2016, and were narrowed down to a selection of finalists who joined us in the afternoon to belt it out for the chance to be the star. While all of our contestants were amazing, and the judges certainly had their work cut out for them, they named our winner: Iyana Colby!
And what about the talented cosplayers who have been wandering our halls? “Curtain Up on Cosplay” featured the announcement of our “BroadwayCon Fashion Show” participants. Those contestants then joined us in the afternoon to strut their stuff. While we were certainly impressed by the many G(a)lindas, Elphabas, waitresses, Newsies, and other creative costumes, it was the Flotsam and Jetsam who swam their way to the top!
Queen Lesli welcomed us all into her kingdom during her “Lesli Margherita Variety Hour.” After she shared her unique road to Broadway, Queen Lesli sang a mash-up of Taylor Swift’s “Mean” and David Guetta’s “Titanium” (yes, seriously) to show the bullies that they can’t get to us! The “Variety Hour” also featured the world premier of Star Wars: Das Musical, starring Lesli, Max Crumm, and James Snyder with the vocal talents of James Monroe Iglehart. And what kind of variety show would it be without a Powerpoop Presentation? Lesli used her presentation to impart wisdom on the audience: Don’t let people poop on your pathway. She closed with a super-powered medley of showtunes, finishing off with Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now. Her final advice to her adoring fans?
In the evening, we decided that the snow must go on! The “BroadwayCon Blizzard Party Line” returned for its second year—even if the blizzard didn’t (thank goodness). What started as last-minute programming in 2016 has become something that attendees and special guests look forward to most! This year, we called and chatted with stars like Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Billy Porter, Laura Bell Bundy, the touring cast of Something Rotten!, Idina Menzel, and Kristin Chenoweth. There was also a special video message from Laura Benanti! This year’s “Party Line” proved once again that you never know what might happen at a BroadwayCon panel.
The evening’s programming continued with members of the original cast and creative teams of Merrily We Roll Along for “The Best Worst BroadwayCon Panel.” Did you know it’s been 35 years since the show debuted on Broadway? Now you do! Our guests discussed the road the musical has traveled since the curtain rose, sharing stories about opening the show, and the hurdles they faced during the original run.
And then all bets were off at the “BroadwayCon Slumber Party,” which is… exactly what it sounds like! In this interactive event, the audience got to vote in a massive game of “Truth or Dare” with various special guests, including Ryann Redmond, Daisy Eagan, Anthony Rapp, and everyone’s favorite Annoying Actor Friend, Andrew Briedis. Lena Hall blew us all away with her dare: a show-stopping performance of “Origin of Love.” The evening was hosted by Ben Cameron, and ended with a lightning round of sound clips played in a “name that tune” fashion—including brief clips of some of the stars themselves!
Performances from musical guests LAKES and Teen Commandments closed out the night, setting us up for our final act on day three.
Check out our recap video from today, and join us tomorrow for the big finale of BroadwayCon 2017!