Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Con Where It Happens: BroadwayCon 2017



Y'all, apparently it's not normal to memorize and regurgitate lyrics to multiple musical theater songs, even ones you haven't heard in a couple of years.

Or as my friend said to me today while we were roaming the Jacob Javits Center, "You didn't even miss a beat on 'Satisfied.' How does that happen?"

2017's BroadwayCon was held at the Javits Center over this weekend and two of my friends and I went today, the last day of the convention, and had a great time.

We went dressed in pink, blue, and yellow as a nod to the Schuyler sisters from Hamilton.


We emerged out of the Hudson Yards subway station and crossed 11th Avenue to Javits. Guys, 11th Avenue is basically the end of the world to us New Yorkers; that is, it's all the hell away on the west side, where you can see New Jersey and the Hudson River, and there's nothing out there except the glass monstrosity of Javits.

Our first stop after checking in was a choreography panel. Three Broadway choreographers talked about their dance experience, how they became choreographers, how they developed their styles, etc. My friend Jess is a dancer and choreographer, so this was right up her alley.

One of the choreographers, Andy Blankenbuehler, worked on Hamilton, which he kept referencing throughout the panel. I love that show, but it was kind of funny to hear him say, "For example, um, in Hamilton..." or "...this move in Hamilton" or "when I started on Hamilton."

Yes, we know.

Although I'm utterly ignorant of dance or the process of choregraphy, we had a small example when one of the panelists asked a couple people to give her gestures illustrating "loneliness," then she demonstrated what that looked like all together and we all did it. So fun!

We walked around the marketplace area next, where all kinds of vendors had their wares on display. I bought a t-shirt, (with a Hamilton lyric on it, of course) then while Jess went off to do a dance class, Nali and I went to a props panel. I never knew there were so many different kinds of fake blood before.

Our third panel was fascinating, though we couldn't stay for the entire thing: Broadway and the blackist, which featured actors and writers and others who were blacklisted back in the 1950s by the House of Un-American Activities Committee. There were also relatives of actors who were blacklisted out of Hollywood, therefore couldn't work in movies or television for years because they had spoken out about certain political viewpoints or they might've known a communist once or because they were named by someone else.

It's a dark chapter of history we shouldn't forget, especially now. Also, Broadway and the theater community at large never operated by a blacklist, absorbing many of the blacklisted actors and writers into the theater community.

But we had to leave early because the big mainstage panel started at 1pm...the next administration of Hamilton! The newest cast members of the musical--both in New York and some of the Chicago cast via Skype--spoke about how the show resonates differently based on whatever chaos is going on in the world, what the energy feels like in the room, how they've inhabited their roles when it's in such a hit show, and how much Brandon Victor Dixon likes baked goods.

All three of us went to a panel on New Musical Theatre, which turned out to be about a specific organization or something, which we didn't quite get, so we ducked out and went to the one room museum instead! There were drawings and etchings, set design models, costume pieces, a real Tony award, and a gold record plaque for the Rent soundtrack, with a gold-painted cassette tape on the plaque. Hilarious. A cassette!

Actual Tony Award.

We walked around the marketplace a bit more, where I saw necklaces containing Jane Austen's words in a pendant thing (alas, I cannot decide which Austen book or which musical lyric I want on a piece of jewelry so I did not purchase those). Also, more awesome t-shirts: Bookworm, said one. I Wish I Lived In a Musical, said another.

"Noo," I whined. "I want all of them. Why do all these shirts have pieces of my life on them?"

"Because these are your people!" my friend Jess said. (That is, people who like musicals and books. And maybe history.)

Then it was time for the BroadwayCon First Look! There were some trailers and teasers for plays that  will open this year, as well as a teaser for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the musical (coming soon!). And there were performances from the upcoming Miss Saigon, Come From Away (which I'd heard of, didn't give it a thought, then I heard the song today and I'm like, "But I like the song!"), Anastasia (yes, please), Amelie (yes, please) and Bandstand, which I didn't know the plot of until today, but the song Laura Osnes and Corey Cott sang today was lovely--a very musical theatre song that I, the weirdo lyrics person, could easily learn.

Having left the First Look with several shows to look forward to, we made a beeline for the Singalong Room--specifically, singalongs of Act One-ending songs, usually the most dramatic ones in a musical. So the three of us sang (er, well, tried to sing might be a more apt description?) along to "Defying Gravity," "Non-Stop," "La Vie Boheme," and "One Day More."

So. Much. Fun.

And thus my friends were like, "You know all these words! Whut?!"

"Sometimes I'm Eponine," I said as we walked from the singalong to the closing ceremony of the convention. "And sometimes I'm head revolutionary. Which one do you think I'm more like?"

"Head revolutionary," said my friend Nali.

The closing ceremony was really very simple: the organizers came out and talked to us, there were some clips different events from over the weekend, and there was the reiteration that Broadway--and theater--is an accepting community. I'm not a theater kid--far too shy for that--but I enjoy it and I listen to cast albums and I'm a bit dramatic and I know song lyrics. I'm fascinated by theater people. And at the closing ceremony, we were all reminded that while theater is fun and a refuge, art is also a medium for changing hearts, giving us strength, reflecting our society, and effecting change. So go sing your songs, spread your message of love and acceptance, dance harder, write with more fire (marching orders for me!).

And I got to spend the day hearing and singing along to and looking at things related to something I enjoy with two people I love and two people I happen to share a brain with.


2 comments:

  1. Broadway Con!! Love it!!

    Okay, I've never heard of the "House of Un-American Activities Committee." I don't know if I think it's funny or sad. But a gold-plated cassette tape is most definitely hilarious. ^_^

    I know exactly what Jane Austen quote I want on a pendant! "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.-Mr. Darcy” ^_^ I don't know what I like more, that proposal or Romeo's uber-dramatic monologue before he kills himself.

    I'm prisoner 24601. LOL! You know, I can sing "Castle on a Cloud" in French. ^_^ In French it's titled "My Prince is on His Way" or something to that effect. "Mon Prince est Chemin." I had a cassette of it. I need to find that. I still have a boombox that plays cassettes...

    I would have so much at Broadway Con!!!

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    1. It was a lot of fun, although I'm tired today. :-)

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