BroadwayCon 2017: Broadway's Biggest Names Come Out to PlayJanuary 10, 2017 - by Griffin Miller, Theatre Editor
BroadwayCon, Broadway’s seismic annual event, has outgrown last year’s New York Hilton Midtown venue. For 2017, from Friday, January 27th through Sunday the 29th, BroadwayCon will “play” NYC’s Jacob Javits Center with a star-spangled “cast” of celebs, both onstage & behind the scenes. Carpe BroadwayCon!
The heavy theatrical artillery is launching this month and, if you love the idea of hobbing and nobbing with Broadway insiders, I suggest you brave the windy trek to New York’s supersized venue, the Javits Center. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with a badass head-dive into wall-to-wall Broadway stars, stats, seminars, merchandise, and other awesome stuff. And it will come at you from all angles and theatrical genres. In short, this baby is the Great White Way at its knowledgeable, edgiest, mind-blowing apex!
In 2016 Broadway went all Comic-Con on Manhattan when it got its feet wet with the first BroadwayCon, dampened only slightly by the biggest blizzard in years. Twelve months later (more or less) it’s back for round two of performances and panels, stars and seminars, workshops, singalongs, photo booths, improv, costumes (authentic, designer-made, and cobbled together from Halloweens past), meet-and-greets, autographs, selfie ops, and sundry other Big Apple theatrical goodies. Three days and 200+ hours' worth.
“I signed on to help create this event not only because it is the first convention for theatre fans, and not only because it is a singular opportunity to spend quality time with those who love Broadway most, but because this is the convention that this community deserves,” says BroadwayCon co-creator Anthony Rapp, who goes on to describe BroadwayCon’s gestalt as “...the perfect blend and marriage of all the things I believe in about what theatre can and should be and what community is and what fandom is. [It’s] about celebrating the passion and love for, and artistry of, the things you are."
Joel Grey, Whoopi Goldberg, Chita Rivera – names that have been front and center on Broadway, TV and film for decades – join such clout-wielding newcomers as singer/songwriter Josh Groban (who recently made his Broadway debut in the hit electro-pop opera Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) and Saturday Night Live’s Taran Killam, a guy whose mega-stage crossover came when he joined the cast of Hamilton.
Comet's Josh Groban, King and I's Kelli O'Hara, and Hamilton's Brandon Victor Dixon will all appear at this year's BroadwayCon.
And then there’s the roster of Tony winners and nominees that have also signed on for year two of BroadwayCon, NYC’’s insider “must” a list that includes Barbara Barrie, Roger Bart, Laura Bell Bundy, Reed Birney, Danny Burstein, Carolee Carmello, Michael Cerveris, Brandon Victor Dixon Christine Ebersole, Melissa Errico, Santino Fontana, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, Lena Hall, LaChanze, Norm Lewis, Rebecca Luker, Donna Murphy, Kelli O’Hara, Laura Osnes, Anthony Rapp, Alice Ripley, and Tony Yazbeck.
Meanwhile, the creative force fields slated for 2017’s convention include choreographer Andy Blanekbuehler, scenic designer Beowulf Boritt, lyricist/director Martin Charnin, playwrights David Henry Hwang and Joe DiPietro, director Kathleen Marshall, writer Thomas Meehan, composer Charles Strouse, and Tony-winning director/costume designer Julie Taymor.
I assure you, this is just the tip of the celebrity iceberg. Dozens of other Broadway performers and theatrical masterminds have already signed on—122 at last count—and the list continues to explode with the new additions daily. And these numbers don’t even take into account the four bands slated to perform (yes, nighttime concerts and dance parties are on BroadwayCon’s extensive menu). To date, the groups include “Lakes” (with Tony winner John Gallagher), “Loose Cattle” (with Tony winner Michael Cerveris), 'The Doo Wop Project" (featuring Jersey Boys and Motown vets), and “Teen Commandments” (“...’80s meets 2016 dream world”).
Full Disclosure: These are highlights... a puny selection of what’s going on and available. Hopefully this will give you some idea of what to expect in the way of panels, etc.
* Hamilton: The Next Administration. Ten current Hamiltontonians—performers who have stepped into the biggest hit on Broadway and members of the Chicago cast—make up a panel to discuss what its like to bring their own distinctive talents to the show that redefined Broadway Legend.
* Chita Rivera Q&A. The sublime Broadway star opens up about her groundbreaking Broadway career from her killer breakthrough role as Anita in West Side Story to her most recent Broadway outing in The Visit.
* Twenty Years On Pride Rock. To celebrate Disney’s The Lion King’s 20th Broadway anniversary, BroadwayCon has pulled off a seriously major coup by bringing together the production’s Tony-winning creator/director Julie Taymor and Tony, Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy winner Whoopi Goldberg (who originated the role of Shenzi in the original animated film) for a conversation about the show’s original trajectory and its two decades as a Broadway blockbuster.
* BroadwayCon: First Look. The 2017 Broadway season may still be in its infancy, but an onslaught of new shows are waiting in the wings to become the new scoop-makers. This peek into the near future includes Anastasia (Christy Altomare & Derek Klena); Bandstand (Andy Blankenbuehler, Corey Cott, and Laura Osnes); Come From Away (Jenn Colella and Ian Eisendrath); Significant Other (Barbara Barrie, Trip Cullman, Gideon Glick, Sas Goldberg, Joshua Harmon, Rebecca Naomi Jones, and Lindsay Mendez); as well as news about two other high-profile productions: the new musical Amèlie and the first Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.
* BroadwayCon: The Podcast LIVE! Broadway's Best Media Stars. An extension of the convention (nice rhyme, no?) and led by Patrick Hinds—founder of Theater Podcast Productions and the creator, producer, and host of the podcasts Theater People—this discussion with Broadway media mavens zeroes in on the option of taking an online route to an audience of pros, amateurs, and fans. Scheduled podcast guests include Laura Benanti, Lena Hall, Lesli Margherita, Beth Malone, and Montego Glover.
* This is A Bronx Tale. One of the current season’s arrivals, this panel includes Chazz Palminteri, whose 1989 one-man show was the genesis for this new musical produced by Robert De Niro. Also on the panel are is the musical’s star Nick Cordero along with fellow actors Richard Blake, Ariana DeBose, and Bobby Conte Thornton. They are joined by lyricist Glenn Slater.
* WORKSHOPS, etc. The weekend boasts myriad dance workshops as well as sessions on song interpretation, fight choreography and advice on how to break into show biz.
* MEETUPS: These are opportunities to share your passion with fellow like-minded fans of composers Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Llyod Webber, as well as individuals within the industry.
Look for Julie Taymor, Rebecca Luker, and Christina Ebersole to make appearances at the 2017 BroadwayCon.
AUTOGRAPHS & PHOTOS: FYI
Throughout the three day extravaganza, there will be autograph signings, photo ops, and meet and greets. Here is the lay of the land according to BroadwayCon’s organizers.
* Attendees who have a ticket to the autograph or photobooth session may line up no more than 15 minutes prior to the start of the session. Everyone who receives a ticket via lottery will be granted access to the appropriate session. It is recommended that you line up closer to the beginning of the session rather than the end—but not before the scheduled time.
* You will be asked to present a printed copy of your ticket. We will keep your ticket, so please do not use this as your item to be signed.
* You may only have one item signed at each autograph session.
* You may only have one photograph per photobooth session. This means you can bring friends to join you but again, only one photo.
* After you get your item signed or your photograph taken, leave the area promptly.
* Unfortunately, you may not take personal photographs or videos of yourself with our special guests. If you do so, your pass may be revoked.
* Photos will be available on the BroadwayCon Facebook page within one month of the conference.
TIPS AND TRICKS
* Because lines will be moving quickly, please have all jackets, backpacks, purses, lanyards, or any other items you do not want visible in the photo off and to the side.
* If getting a book signed, please have it open to the page you want signed. For all other items, please have them ready. Guests will be signing in black or silver ink; there are no other colors available.
PHOTOGRAPHS: Glasses may glare or make it hard for the photographer to see if you blinked, so they ask that you remove them if possible. If you prefer not to remove them, please try to tilt the glasses down and away from the lights.
For complete updated info visit broadwaycon.com.