BroadwayCon, the premiere fan convention for all things Broadway, returns July 8-10, 2022 at Manhattan Center & The New Yorker Hotel, this year’s BroadwayCon marks the convention’s first in-person gathering in two years, bringing theater fans closer together closer than ever to some of Broadway’s newest and most exciting shows.
This year’s lineup includes a stellar line-up of interactive Q&As, live performances, sing-a-long sessions and more from hit Broadway shows such as A Strange Loop, POTUS, CHICAGO, Dear Evan Hansen, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Six, Disney Princess – The Concert, Beetlejuice and more.
In addition to individual show spotlights, fans can also attend a variety of panel discussions and interactive sessions from some of Broadway’s greatest performers, producers, writers, composers, choreographers, stage managers and more, including: Andrew Bart Feldman (Dear Evan Hansen, High Musical: The Musical: The Series), Aaron Albano, (Hamilton, Newsies), Anthony Rapp (RENT), Ben Cameron (Wicked, Footloose), Cha Ramos, (Company, Dom Juan), David Connelly (Ukulele U & Director of Education for The Drayton Entertainment Youth Academy), Erin Quill (Avenue Q, Dave), Evan Ruggiero (Bastard Jones, Baby), Freddie Walker-Brown (RENT, Let the Chips Fall Where They May), Gillian Pensaval (The Hamilcast , True Crime Obsessed), Gray Henson (Mean Girls, The Book of Mormon), Ilana Levine (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Little Known Facts podcast), Isabel McCalla (The Prom, Aladdin), Jelani Remy ( Ain ‘t Too Proud, The Lion King) Jenn Colella (Come From Away, If/Then), Jennifer Ash Leigh Tepper (Be More Chill, Feinstein’s/54 Below), John McGinty (Children of a Lesser God), Joseph Travers (Bronx Bombers), Judy Kuhn (Fun Home, Fiddler on the Roof), L Morgan Lee (A Strange Loop , The Danish Girl), Leslie Margarita (Matilda the Musical, Ladies at Sea), Maybe Burke (Rami, Auakafine is Nora from Queens), Michael Kushner (How to Make a Few Hyphens in the Theater Business), Nick Walker (Not Very Proud , Hamilton), Robert Westley (Hamlet, A Bronx Tale), Ryan Redmond (Frozen, If/Then), Sergio Trujillo (Tony Award Winner – Not Too Proud), Sidney Mesher (Radio City Rockets), Thane Jasperson ( Hamilton, Newsies), Tina Sutter (Is This A Room) and Will Roland (Be More Chill, Dear Evan Hansen).
Broadway’s all-star cast will participate in a variety of programs covering topics such as the black artists who rewrote the rules of the Great White Way; how Broadway can use TikTok to build brands, develop shows and engage with fans; the history and future of restaging original productions; the possibilities for an American theater that is more LGBTQ+ inclusive; the evolving role of the stage manager in times of health and social justice concerns; learning lessons from some of Broadway’s most egregious failures; representation of people with disabilities on and off stage; and more.
Below, BroadwayWorld takes you inside the return of BroadwayCon in our chat with Melissa Agnelli, founder and CEO of Mischief Management, the production company behind BroadwayCon and other unforgettable fan events across the country.
Find out what it takes to get the horse back on its feet after a two-year hiatus, what fans can expect from this year’s big comeback and more in our chat below!
What was the planning? When did this process begin, and more importantly, when did you decide it was safe enough to consider holding an in-person BroadwayCon again?
The hard part is, she’s been a moving target all these months, hasn’t she? We have to plan these events for about a year, so we had to kind of take the leap of faith for about a year that things would improve. Unfortunately, a clear ending did not come at this point. So what we have to do now is just do the best we can and be as safe as possible. We actually planned it for February this year, and when it became clear that we couldn’t even get close to anything safe during that time, we moved it to July. I am very grateful that the venue allowed us to do that which is not always the case. So we’ve actually been preparing it for over a year. Now, while the situation isn’t perfect, we plan to do everything we can to keep people as confident as possible about being in the crowd.
It was exciting because even though there are so many hybrid options now, the world is more comfortable with digital. All of these things are great for affordability and are definitely a positive trend in the world. What they’ve taught us is that there’s something irreplaceable about being personal, and we’re very excited to get back to that.
So far you’ve announced some pretty amazing programs with more on the way. One of the most exciting things I noticed on the schedule were workshops with people like Freddie Walker and Angie Schworer. It looks like there will be plenty of opportunities for people to hone their craft.
yes Can I just praise Freddie Walker for the hot minute?
I knew her from my youth as Joan in “Rent” and that’s all I knew about her. Now that we’ve gotten to know her through this event, she’s the most passionate advocate for the arts and for youth education and diversity. She has been such a staunch advocate for what we do and I appreciate her literally every minute of every day, I love her so much.
Giving people opportunities to hone their craft is just a huge part of what we do at BroadwayCon, and we want to do it even more in the future. We feel our role is to make the event a sort of taste of everything Broadway in one weekend, it’s not the same as going through a show, it’s like going to all the shows and more!
There are also a number of events focused on activism around topics such as social justice and focusing on the future of the industry in terms of inclusion and expanding our boundaries. What does this programming as part of BroadwayCon mean to you?
It has always been a crucial part of BroadwayCon’s mission. This is something that was very consciously standard at the beginning of the idea for the first BroadwayCon. We think that, and this is true of all Mischief events, that you can’t serve a community without having critical discussions about how the community can be better. It doesn’t mean we’re perfect and it doesn’t mean we haven’t made mistakes, but we’ve always made a point of it. Now the world is starting to place more and more importance on it, and we’re increasing our focus on it because it’s becoming more and more crucial as we go forward… We’re trying very hard to make sure that it’s the most important thing to us, and then that we try to balance that with making sure that people mostly come and have a great time.
I feel like that’s what sets BroadwayCon apart from other parties in the industry, it celebrates fandom. Where other events are more focused on celebrating the industry itself or aspects of it, this really celebrates the fan community. So what can fans expect from BroadwayCon in terms of camaraderie?
Something that’s always really helpful for BroadwayCon fans is to know that we do a lot of meetups on the first day so people can find the piece of the pie they fit into. So whether it’s a Sondheim fan or an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan, it gives fans a chance to meet other people. So often we’ve heard the concern of people who attend alone, and 100% of the time we hear from those people after the event saying, “I made about 10 new friends!” I think that’s an important part of the experience. You find your community and your people, then just drift off with the things that speak to you – a dance workshop, a panel for a show you love, a sing along! I love singing along because people just lose their minds. They’re just so full of joy, and I think that joy is contagious… And to be in that atmosphere where you don’t feel judged, it opens the way for a kind of self-expression that’s hard to get elsewhere. It is so precious and valuable.
As usual, there will be plenty of big shows and big names this year, including presentations from Dear Evan Hansen and Kimberly Kimbo traveling to Broadway. Is there anything you can tell us about what we can expect?
Something we’re doing right now is our First Look session, and it’s an incredibly important session for me because I love being able to show fans things they wouldn’t otherwise see, or sneak peeks of shows that haven’t yet seen seen. So the first showcase is just like an hour to an hour and a half of performances and previews of things you’ve never seen before! It’s coming together and we should have a lineup announced soon… We’ll also be going to some off-Broadway presentations, which has always been the goal of BroadwayCon. We wanted to highlight more than Broadway because the theater community as a whole is bigger than Broadway.
Health and safety is paramount to most people, especially in our industry. What is the Covid safety planning for the event and what should attendees know?
We are maintaining our vaccine and mask requirements for the event because it is so important that BroadwayCon does not become a cause for Broadway itself to be affected or a cause for anyone to become ill. So we keep it very strict, even though Broadway loosens those restrictions. We rely on people feeling like they can congregate safely, and so we really need to stick with that and wait until it’s really safe to loosen those restrictions. So, we’re just asking everyone to go into it cheerfully, knowing that hopefully, fingers crossed, this will be the last year we have to do things like this.
What does it mean to all of you to be able to bring the Broadway fan and artist community back together, in person, after such a long absence?
It means everything to us. There is something so precious and precious about coming together in person, and everyone who works on it is incredibly passionate about it. So literally taking that opportunity away for as long as it was taken away was really hard. So to finally see it all happening again – to see people’s faces and friendships being made and to see the things being learned, to hear the things being discussed. Just seeing the pure happiness you can create for people is absolutely, 100% why we do what we do… It’s so exciting. I can’t wait to get back into this space and see people really come together and have fun again.