BroadwayCon 2018 was full of great moments: spine-tingling solos, surprise Skype sessions with stars like Kristin Chenoweth and Rory O'Malley (who talked to us during a backstage break in Hamilton), and lots of other theatre-related miscellany. From impromptu Broadway raves to surprise performances, here are ten highlights from BroadwayCon 2018:
It's every actor's worst nightmare: in his panel with theatre producer and author Jennifer Ashley Tepper, George Salazar (of Be More Chill and The Lightning Thief) told the story of how he once forgot his lines on stage. It was his turn to speak, but he had no idea what he was supposed to say. He knew he had to buy time, so what did he do? He started faking a heart attack. After a few minutes he remembered his lines, and the show went off smoothly. Later, when Jennifer Ashley Tepper checked the performance record for that night, she noted that someone had written: "George had a fake heart attack."
The In the Heights ten-year reunion panel was filled with great moments, but one of the most moving was when Olga Merediz (Abuela Claudia in the original cast) thanked Luis A. Miranda, Jr. (Lin-Manuel Miranda's father) for being so committed and supportive of his son - demonstrated by his being in the back of the room at every rehearsal. To which Luis Miranda said, "I learned that from Mama Rose." Everyone in the room applauded him.
This year, BroadwayCon hosted its first ever Lip Sync Battle, and the competition was fierce. While all the teams gave impressive performances, a crowd favorite was the trio (two girls, one guy) that performed "The Schuyler Sisters" from Hamilton as their opening number. They ended up winning, and when host Ben Cameron asked if they'd like to say anything after their victory, one of them exclaimed, "We entered as a joke!" You never know what might happen at BroadwayCon.
The Frozen First Listen was definitely a treat, with Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez singing snatches of new songs they wrote for the Broadway musical. The event ended with a bang when the songwriters announced that Greg Hildreth (Olaf on Broadway) would sing his character's big number "In Summer." At the end of the song, Robert and Kristen spoke Kristoff's and Anna's lines, and seeing all three of them get so much enjoyment out of the song was a lot of fun. Plus, Greg Hildreth is just a great performer.
During the BroadwayCon YouTube Party, host Ben Cameron chose a selection of Broadway YouTube videos and opened up the main stage to anyone who wanted to come up and sing along. Of course, at BroadwayCon, singing along is never a casual thing. So maybe we shouldn't have been surprised when, as the video for "All That Jazz" started playing, two young fans got up onstage and launched an entire perfectly choreographed dance routine - complete with a cartwheel at the end.
As we waited for the tech crew to set up everything on the main stage for the BroadwayCon closing ceremony, Ben Cameron launched another YouTube Party, and this time one of the songs was "Waving Through A Window" from Dear Evan Hansen. Journalist and Twitter user Illana Keller summed it up best: "Call me a nerd... but just got chills watching hundreds of people end a singalong of 'Waving Through A Window,' a song epitomizing loneliness, by waving at each other."
After the panel "All My Revels Here Are Over: Remembering the Comet," all Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 fans in the house broke into a Broadway-style rave on the spot. It started when the panel hosts announced we were going to recreate and film the "Prologue" from the musical, but quickly escalated into a sing-along/dance party featuring some of the wildest songs from the show.
Broadway Game Night was an event not to be missed - if only for Sierra Boggess and Lesli Margherita's vastly entertaining dramatics. The event pitted teams of Broadway stars and BroadwayCon attendees against each other as it tested their knowledge of all things Broadway. But it just so happened that actresses Sierra Boggess and Lesli Margherita always faced off against each other, and almost always got the hardest questions - which meant they basically just stood there looking blankly at each other for several minutes. However, Sierra's moment of triumph came when she had to complete the Broadway lyric for the song "Part Of Your World." Since Sierra originated the role of the Little Mermaid on Broadway (in her Broadway debut), she was understandably excited - seizing the buzzer and ringing it frantically over and over again. As host Ben Cameron observed, Lesli and Sierra were an act in themselves.
The West Side Story panel was definitely a highlight of the weekend. How cool is it to hear rehearsal stories from some of the Broadway production's original cast members? Grover Dale, who played one of the Jets, had plenty of entertaining stories to tell, as did Jamie Sanchez (Chino, who still seems to feel bad about shooting Tony). But the whole audience seemed to hold their breath when the panel's host asked the original cast members if they remembered any of the choreography. Marilyn D'Honau, who played one of the Jets girls, got up and started dancing right then and there, and Grover Dale quickly jumped up and joined her. "I don't remember many shows," D'Honau confessed. "But I remember West Side Story."
Possibly the biggest surprise of the weekend came late Sunday night when, with the entire BroadwayCon audience assembled in front of the main stage, host Ben Cameron asked us to welcome Denee Benton (star of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812) to the stage. Cameron remembered the first BroadwayCon in 2016, at which Josh Groban announced the then forthcoming Great Comet musical and Denee Benton sang the song "No One Else" from the same show. "Do you remember that?" Cameron asked. Benton said she did. "Would you sing it now?" was the next question. Benton was willing, and as a result, BroadwayCon 2018 ended on a high note.