By Melissa Griegel . . .
The third day of the 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. A popular moderator, psychologist Dr. Alisa Hurwitz, returned this year with two panels. Also, known as “Dr. Drama”, Hurwitz ran “Taking Back Control: The Psychological Power of Reclaiming the Narrative in the Theatre” in the morning, and held her always well-attended panel on mental health in the afternoon. The morning session had Preston Max Allen, Helen Park, and Chesray Dolpha discussing 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. One of the main themes that emerged is that even shows that feature people of color are usually not written by people those people, and usually focus on trauma and war. “It not our story being told,” Park said, “It’s the white perspective of our story.” Dolpha agreed, “Told that way, the stories are often dehumanizing and uninspiring. We need stories about love and joy.”
Multi-hyphenate Michael Kushner got together with a panel who have several job titles after their name such as “actor, producer, and author”. These other multi-hyphenates included Jen Waldman, John Cariani, Kaisha S. Huguley, and Jennifer Ashley Tepper. Kushner explained that multi-hyphenating is not the same as multi-tasking. “We are not doing all of these things at once. We will work on job or project for a certain portion of the day, then devote some hours to something else. Each one is done separately.” Some people on the panel do it to be seen, some do it to earn a living, and others just have so many interests that one interest led to naturally to another one. “Being a woman of color who is queer, I felt marginalized. I have to it all to be see, to get my voice out there, and to pave the way for others like me,” Huguley said. She also added, with some humor, “You need three full-time jobs to live in New York City. It costs $35 just to wake up in New York!” The conversation can be heard on the Broadway Podcast Network.
The much beloved book The Kite Runner just started its run as Broadway show. 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. Nader, who is a composer and percussionist, demonstrated two of the Afgani percussion instruments played in the show. He is the first Afgan man to appear on Broadway and fellow cast mate Azita Ghanizada is the first woman. Sirakian said he is completely humbled to be trusted to bring this great book to life on the stage.
Jessi Wills and Andrew Barth Feldman took to the main stage to judge one of the favorite events of the weekend: the annual lip sync contest. Feldman is a previous winner of the contest, winning just before landing the role of Evan in Dear Evan Hansen. The youngest performer, 12-year-old Kaylee Forth took second place in her Six cosplay outfit, doing a fantastic rendition of a song from the show. Third place went to Dara Weinstein who sang “History of Wrong Guys” from Kinky Boots with all of the expression and attitude of a true performer. The winner went to an incredible performance by Naia Morgan who not only hand-crafted her own costume that creatively combined the character Beetlejuice along with a hand puppet of the sand worm in the show, but she thought outside the box singing from Little Shop of Horrors and using the puppet to sing Audrey’s lines.
Andrew Keenan-Bolger, along with a guest appearance by 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 celebs played along with the selected attendees, with the Sondheim team taking the win. The evening ended with the traditional “Blizzard Party Line” when moderators call actors on zoom and converse with them. This tradition started the first year when there was an actual blizzard, and many guests were not able to come. Melissa Anelli, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, and Jennifer Ashley Tepper got Ben Fankhauser, Benj Pasek, Tom Kitt, Jose Llana, John-Andrew Morrison, and T. Oliver Reid on the line. Ben Cameron concluded by getting the audience on their feet and singing “The Schuyler Sisters”. The new dates and location for next year are to be announced soon, according to Anelli. They are keeping the move to the summer, but will be changing the hotels. See you next year!
Photos by Melissa Griegel
Lead Photo: Lip Sync Winner Naia Morgan