Chita Rivera

The second BroadwayCon took place last weekend for three days at Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center.  Last years BroadwayCon took place during New York’s blizzard and most transportation was suspended. The weather this year was perfect.

There was so much happening that there was no way to see everything. There was such a wide scope of activities and a market place schools, events, boutiques with special items made just for this occasion, booths where you could participate in performing and sign up for mailing lists. There were also photo booths to have a photo taken with your favorite performer or get an autograph.

There were scheduled seminars to learn about anything theatre from dancing, scenery, lighting and costumes – – anything you needed to know about the show or how to do your own. And there were meet and greets for Theatre groupies for their favorite show.

Melissa Errico, did a seminar about her growing up and becoming a performer and mother and how to balance it all.  Singing a few songs –  “The Boy Next Door” which she explained is her audition song, “How are Things in Glocca Moora” and “The Secret of Life, ” she spoke about meeting Lauren Bacall who told her she would be a great actress, but needed to create a scandal.

Chita Rivera held a Q & A in the Main Stage as did Joel Grey followed by signing autographs.

A panel of the performers from the original IN TROUSERS, along with composer William Finn, included Alison Fraiser, Chip Zien, Mary Testa, Ira Weitzman and was moderated by Jennifer Ashley Tepper.  IN TROUSERS was first performed in William Finn’s living room. A reunion of the kids from ANNIE included Andrea McArdle and Shelley Bruce from the original cast, along with Martin Charnin and Charles Strouse. The show got it’s start at Goodspeed Opera House and everyone wondered how a show about a comic book could be made into a musical. A reunion of the cast of MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG, which opened 35 years ago and closed after 16 performances, featured  performers making their Broadway debut and everyone thought how can a Stephen Sondheim show flop. Mana Allen, Donna Marie Asbury, James Bonkovsky, David Cady, and Daisy Prince all reminisced about growing up, tending to your dreams and how their lives were changed by this show.

Current running shows such as HAMILTON, A BRONX TALE, DEAR EVAN HANSEN, NATASHA, PIERRE AND THE GREAT COMET OF 1812, and the off-Broadway SPEECH AND DEBATE HELD panels with many of the cast members including Josh Groban. Included in this was a panel from the TV show MADAM SECRETARY which included performers used to doing eight shows a week on Broadway –  – Sebastian Arcelus, Rich Bergen, Keith Carradine, Bebe Neuwith and Patina Miller participated,  hosted by Anthony Rapp.

Two memorable seminars were:

William Ivey Long: six time Tony Award winning costume Designer. He focused on his forty year career and on the fairy-tale world he created for CINDERELLA with sketches videos and photographs, discussing how he got his ideas and interpreted them into the costumes.The special gowns that transform from rags within seconds in front of your eyes were magical.
“Blacklist and Broadway” talked about performers and how they found themselves unable to get work because they were blacklisted and investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Their relatives were there to talk about this. The sons of Herschel Bernardi (Michael C. Bernardi,) Zero Mostel (Josh Mostel), Jack Gilford (Joe Gilford), Arthur Miller (Joan Copeland, his sister who herself was blacklisted, and Tom Pedi was represented by his niece, Christine Pedi who also moderated.

“BroadwayCon Blizzard Party Line” was created last year as some interesting fill was needed because the blizzard had prevented many of the performers getting to the event. So the idea was revisted this year, with performers who were on the road or unable to attend this year, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kristin Chenoweth, Laura Benanti, the touring company of SOMETHING ROTTEN and Idina Menzell were some of those who participated.

Lots more but here are three last items to mention,

“The Lesli Margherita Variety Hour” – Lesli was given an hour to do her own thing. Last year she managed to jump in and fill many spots for those who could not make it to the convention. She performed wonders. Singing various songs, she did her own version of STAR WARS with the help of many Broadway performers. That woman can do anything!

“BroadwayCon Cabaret” – Tom Kitt, Amanda Green, Lesli Margherita, Carolee Carmello, Lawrence O’Keefe and others.

“BroadwayCon First Look” –  some upcoming Broadway Shows, from BANDSTAND, Laura Osnes and Corey Cott, COME FROM AWAY with Jenn Colella, songs from ANASTASIA and MISS SAIGON were among those featured.

It was a great time, with people from all over the United States, some very young, many dressed in costumes they made themselves, quite amazing. It was represented by all ages. I ran into Martin Charnin the next day and he said: “seeing all these young people under the age of 40, there is hope for us.”


Photos: Maryann Lopinto