New York, New York: Part 1 (BroadwayCon)

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This exact time last month, I took a trip to New York City. The point of the trip was for the first ever BroadwayCon, a convention that took place in Midtown Manhattan for musical theatre fans, organized by Mischief Management’s Melissa Anelli and Stephanie Dornhelm. Some Potter fans might recognize them as the brains behind what was once LeakyCon (now called GeekyCon). BroadwayCon was also co-founded by RENT’s Anthony Rapp. I mentioned this on my Instagram before: If there’s anything I love more than books, honestly speaking, it’s musicals. So last year in February when I heard about the convention through Twitter and saw that MM and Anthony were behind it, I knew I had to go. Had to. I’d never been to New York before and like every musical theatre fan, being able to walk the streets of Broadway is something you just have to do at least once in your life. So I thought with the convention looming ahead, this would be the perfect opportunity to do so.

Fast forward through months of saving, waiting in front of the computer to score weekend passes, and waiting with bated breath for announcements of which stars were going to be there… the day finally came in January 2016. I took my equally musical-obsessed cousin along with me on the trip for some much-needed relaxation and bonding. And fangirling.

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Day 1 took place on January 22, and if the endless singalongs with fellow fans and amazing performances and panels were any indication of how the rest of the weekend was going to be, I knew this trip was going to be so worth it. They seriously started it off with a bang: the opening ceremony performance took my breath away and you could just feel it in the room that a convention like this for a community as vast as musical theatre was long, long overdue. The cast of the smash hit Hamilton was there for a panel in front of a full audience and were just incredible human beings. I wasn’t too familiar with the show prior to BroadwayCon, but after that, just call me Hamiltrash; it’s phenomenal. I may or may not be listening to the cast recording as I’m typing this up right now (I totally am).

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Original cast and crew of RENT

Several cast and crew members from the original production of RENT were also there to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary. Now, RENT is my favourite musical. Of all time. I went through a phase in my life when all I did was listen to the cast recording, the movie soundtrack, watched every performance I could find online, watch the movie for days over and over, interviews with new cast members, old ones — I was obsessed. I still have days now when I just sit around and do nothing but listen to RENT songs. So I think you can imagine how emotional I was to be sitting in the same room and breathing the same air as people like Anthony Rapp, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, and Rodney Hicks. Guys. It was an experience and a half. And that was only day one.

nyc_03Okay but here’s the real kicker from that day. The coup de grâce that sent my soul out of my body and into the heavens before the weekend even really began. Earlier that afternoon, my cousin and I were perusing the vendor hall and dropping bills left and right on more merchandise than we could possibly carry, and suddenly we see a booth for Broadway Records, right? They have a poster with a schedule of guests that would be dropping by over the weekend for autographs and pictures. First up that day: Lea Salonga and Telly Leung from Allegiance. I think my heart stopped a little bit? Lea Salonga? Princess Jasmine and Mulan? Fantine and Eponine? The national treasure of the Philippines?! Did my eyes deceive me? During our initial planning stages for this trip, we always joked about Lea being there. “If Lea’s there, I’m gonna pass out”, “We’re totally going to meet the Queen”, all said jokingly, because we didn’t think she was even going to be there. But her name was right thereYou had to buy a copy of their cast recording in order to have them sign it and get a photo op. I would’ve bought 3 of them if it guaranteed me meeting them. We were still early but we didn’t want to miss them so we literally plopped ourselves off to the side and waited for an hour. A while later, we looked behind us and we realized we started the line-up, lol. Which meant we were first and oh my god, we were so emotional. And then she walked in and just hung out for a bit with the staff looking all flawless and stuff. I had to sneak a picture for my Snapchat. Then Telly’s cute self walked in a while later looking even better in person than he does on television and I don’t even really know what happened after that, but all I remember is that we told them we loved them and the photographer asked if we wanted a picture and I was like, “God, yes. Please.” And this is now a thing that happened and you can bet your asses I will be telling my grandchildren about it:

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With Lea Salonga and Telly Leung.
Photo credit: Broadway Records on Facebook

Days 2 and 3 pretty much went the same way, with me almost passing out after merely seeing every Broadway star that was in my peripheral. The second day was also the day of Snowstorm Jonas. That didn’t stop us, little Canadians that we are. The people behind the convention were so great even with cancellations due to the weather. There was new event that they thought up on the fly where they literally just sat on a sofa on the main stage and called their friends on their phones and just chatted on speaker for everyone to hear. Sounds pretty underwhelming, you might say. Not if your friends are people like Darren Criss, Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Grey, and freakin’ Patti LuPone. Patti LuPone! And that’s just to name a few. So, so dope.

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Krysta Rodriguez

There was also a cabaret that night, which featured the amazing Krysta Rodriguez (Spring Awakening, First Date, NBC’s Smash) singing songs from her previous shows and accompanied by the talented Joe Iconis. Seriously, what a pair. Smash is one of my favourite television shows, and I was super stoked to know several cast members were there and that Josh Safran, the showrunner for season 2 was also in attendance. He held a panel and gave some of us lucky Smash fans exclusives and answered some questions about the show, which was really sweet. I actually got his autograph on my season 2 DVD of Smash and talked to him briefly, so… you know. Life made.

On the third and final day, the excitement didn’t waver one bit. They closed off the weekend with a closing ceremony that was just as energetic as the opening, and they announced that there would be a second BroadwayCon in 2017. I highly recommend to any theatre fan that if you’re able to go, do it. It was such a huge success and it’s easily something that I’ll never forget. The entire weekend was full of performances, panels, workshops, cosplay, singalongs, games, and just all-around Broadway goodness. Click here to visit the official site for more information.

I’ll be posting a part two to this New York experience in a few days, because we got all touristy on our last day there and wandered around the city a bit. A couple words for you guys: New York Public Library. Stay tuned!

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