BroadwayCon 2022 – Three Day Lovefest
By Sandi Durell/Melissa Griegel
After a two-year hiatus, the ever-popular BroadwayCon was back with an in-person convention. The three-day Broadway lovefest was rescheduled from its usual winter gathering to July 8-11 at a new venue: The New Yorker Hotel and adjacent Manhattan Center. Ben Cameron returned to his hosting duties, a job he does really well.
First day kickoff included a musical number about Broadway, a chat with Tony Winner Joaquina Kalukango, and a song and dance from Jared Grimes.
Hillary Rodham Clinton made a special appearance this year and moderated a panel called “Here’s to the Ladies.” Clinton, a huge Broadway fan, sat down with leading ladies Vanessa Williams, Julie White, LaChanze and Donna Murphy to discuss women on Broadway. The women discussed how they would like to see changes in the industry to have more women at the helm writing, directing, and producing shows.
The cast of A Strange Loop, along with some of the creatives gathered to discuss their many accolades, including The Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award, the genius of Michael R. Jackson, and their joy and gratitude at being part of an all-Black cast that celebrates the Queer experience.
A First Look showcase gave the audience insight into some shows that just started their Broadway runs or are slated to open soon. Kimberly Akimbo will be moving to Broadway after a successful Off-Broadway run, this time with LaChanze as a first-time producer. Kinky Boots is making a return and will be at Stage 42. Between the Lines is finally off Broadway after a long pandemic delay. Paulo Szot and Betsy Wolfe are bringing West End hit & Juliet to New York.
Day Two was back in swing with main stage programming, small group and workshop offerings, and a shopping marketplace full of Broadway goodies. Some of the attendees dressed as their favorite Broadway characters as Cosplay was back.
Andrea Ambam from Level Forward moderated a panel of four of the stars from POTUS: Or Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive. Lea DeLaria, Suzy Nakamura, Julianne Hough, and Rachel Dratch gave audience members some insight into the history of how they got involved in the show, what they like most about it, and how the audience reaction has been. One thing they all agreed upon was that it was wonderful working in an all-female environment where everyone was supportive of each other.
The 6th Annual Star to Be competition, hosted by Ben Cameron, brought together 12 young contestants who were selected in advance from audition tapes. There were ten in-person performances which included one duet of sisters and one dancer, and one screen viewing from a young woman from India who was not able to travel to New York.
Four talented actresses who have played a princess on Broadway presented Behind the Magic with Disney Princess—the Concert. Susan Egan, Anneliese van der Pol, Isabelle McCalla, and Syndee Winters ended with the popular “Let it Go” from Frozen. Kimberly Akimbo choreographer Danny Medford moderated a panel with four stars of the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway show that will be transitioning to Broadway this fall. Bonnie Milligan, Olivia Elease Hardy, Michael Iskander, and Nina White are excited for the opening when the latter three will be making their Broadway debuts.
A Cabaret Show with some very special guests, Fredi Walker-Brown, best known for originating the role of Joanne in Rent, delighted the audience with songs, including some original music. The Boy Band Project, made up of Broadway actors, got the crowd pumped dancing and singing to favorite songs of the big Boy Bands of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Anthony Rapp, OBC Mark in Rent, one of the founders of BroadwayCon, along with Melissa Anelli were a big part of the day.
The third day of BroadwayCon 2022 started off with some workshops discussing the state of the industry and several live podcast recordings, and ended with games shows, contests, and singing. Popular moderator, psychologist Dr. Alisa Hurwitz, returned this year with two panels. Known as “Dr. Drama”, Hurwitz ran “Taking Back Control: The Psychological Power of Reclaiming the Narrative in the Theatre.”
Preston Max Allen, Helen Park, and Chesray Dolpha discussed trying to get more voices heard from people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and people who are differently-abled or have different body types than we are used to seeing on stage.
The much beloved book The Kite Runner just started its run on Broadway. The book spent two years on The New York Times Best Seller List and was transformed into a play that was met with great success on the West End. Alan Seales from The Theatre Podcast moderated the panel which included cast and creative from the show: Eric Sirakian, Damian Sandys, and Salar Nader.
Andrew Keenan-Bolger along with Fredi Walker-Browne, hosted BroadwayCon Feud to great hilarity. Erin Quill and Patrick Hinds led team “Keenan Vulture” and Gillian Pensavalle and Bonnie Milligan led team “The Sondheim Family”. Most of the laughs, and frustrations, came from some of the surveyed answers that were not correct such as people surveyed saying that they thought Sondheim wrote wicked. The evening ended with the traditional “Blizzard Party Line.”
BroadwayCon 2023 will be a summer event next year with a change in hotels. Looking forward!