I know, I know, this is LONG overdue, but as you know, I’ve been super busy with moving and house projects, so I’m just now getting around to this. Enjoy!
Ben and I were lucky enough to snag a ride to our various ports from a family friend. They dropped me off at the Essex Junction train station right at 9 am, then continued on into Burlington to drop Ben at the airport.
The train arrived promptly at 9:45 and we were off! The Amtrak Vermonter goes from St. Albans, VT all the way down to Washington, DC. It makes LOTS of stops along the way and doesn’t travel very fast, so it’s about a 9 hour ride to New York. While this sounds like a lot, driving to NYC would take at least 6 hours, we’d have to pay for parking, and contend with city traffic, so really, it’s not bad. Plus, the train is Wi-Fi enabled, there are power outlets at every seat, and there’s a snack car. Not to mention, the seats are huge, with plenty of leg room. AND, Sarah and I each had two seats to ourselves for the majority of the trip. So basically, we were riding in style and comfort.
Along the way, we chatted, ate snacks, napped, read, and otherwise passed a leisurely day watching the scenery go by. We arrived at Penn Station around 6:30 and walked the 10 or so blocks to our hotel. We stayed at City Rooms – Times Square. In a nutshell, it’s about a step above a hostel. Super cheap, zero amenities, small rooms, no elevator. And our room was on the 5th floor. I don’t know that I’d stay there again, but it worked for this trip. At least the location was convenient!
After checking in and dumping our stuff, we walked over to Shake Shack for some dinner. We don’t have Shake Shacks in Vermont, so this was a treat! We were both pretty tired, so we just headed back to our room to read for a while, and went to bed early.
This was the official first day of BroadwayCon. Sarah and I got up around 7 am to get ready and head out to find breakfast. We ended up eating breakfast at Pret a Manger pretty much every morning because it was on our way to the convention center, and offered halfway decent hot breakfast options on a budget.
The Javits Center was about a mile and a half from our hotel, and we walked there and back pretty much every day (we ended up taking a cab on Sunday afternoon, and only because it was rainy and we were exhausted).
Sarah and I had purchased Gold level passes for the weekend, which got us a few perks like a swag bag (not really that swag-y), early entry to the Marketplace (souvenirs galore!), and a few other things. Unfortunately, they were having internet issues and didn’t start letting Gold passes inside until almost 9:30, which was, frankly, annoying, but what can you do?
After wandering the Marketplace for a bit and making a few purchases, we made our way to our first panel of the day, Thank You, Five! The Stage Management Panel. I’ve only ever been an assistant stage manager, but Sarah has done some stage management, and it was actually quite interesting.
Our 11 am panel was The American Theatre Wing: 100 Years, 100 Voices, 100 Million Miracles. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into this panel, but it was great. I learned a lot about the history of the American Theatre Wing. For instance, I didn’t realize it was originally a branch of the armed forces, or that it was founded by women. It was also an integrated organization during a time when integration was still pretty new and scandalous. They passed around some old, original Tony Awards, which used to be money clips for men and makeup compacts for women, and I got to hold an ACTUAL Tony award, which was beyond cool.
We took a quick break for lunch at the Javits Center food court (typical food court fare), and headed to our 1 pm panel, The Secrets of Broadway’s St. James Theatre. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a great panel. It featured Jordan Roth, whose family owns and manages five different Broadway theatres, including the St. James, and I found him to be a bit pretentious. He also talked a lot about improvements that were being made to the theatre, rather than the theatre’s history and “secrets” as one might have expected from the title of the panel. They also showed a slideshow of photos from the theatre’s past, but the screen was tiny, on the other side of the room, and the photos moved so quickly I basically couldn’t see anything.
Afterwards, Sarah and I split up, as it was time for my photograph session with the incomparable Donna Murphy. Those of you who aren’t Broadway fans might recognize her as the voice of Mother Goethel in Disney’s Tangled. At any rate, she was lovely and gracious and told me I looked beautiful, and I was basically tongue-tied after that.
At 3, Sarah and I met up for Everybody Say Yeah!: Kinky Boots After 2,000 Performances. I was particularly interested in this panel because one of the panelists, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, who is an original company member, is an acquaintance of mine. We did summer stock together a loooooong time ago, and I was hoping to say hello. The panel ended up being an absolute blast. The cast members featured had tons of hilarious stories about auditions and ridiculous stuff that has happened over the course of the past five years on Broadway. And after the panel, I was able to hug Kevin and tell him how happy and proud I was of everything he’s done since we met. It was lovely to see him! I just wish we’d gotten a photo together.
It was time to line up for the BroadwayCon 2018 Opening Ceremonies on the Mainstage, and this was the only real low point of the day. As Gold pass holders, we were supposed to have guaranteed seating at all Mainstage events. I had assumed that this would mean there would be a separate line for Gold pass holders, and we would be seated first, or at the very least, there would be a section of seats reserved for Gold passes. This was unfortunately not the case. EVERYONE was lined up together, and the lines were completely disorganized. A chunk of lines here, a chunk of lines there, with no clearly defined beginning or end. It was pretty chaotic, and people were understandably confused and upset. Thankfully, we did manage to get inside, but we had pretty crappy seats, way over to the right and relatively far back.
The opening ceremonies themselves ended up being pretty awesome. Billy Porter came out and sang a song that I’m ashamed I didn’t know. Betsy Wolfe sang Meadowlark, which immediately made me cry, and Kelli O’Hara sang Pure Imagination. It was quick and lovely.
Immediately following was the In the Heights 10 Year Reunion Panel, with most of the original cast of In the Heights, including Lin Manuel Miranda himself, which was beyond amazing. He’s just obviously such a nerd and so happy to be doing what he loves. At one point when they were discussing songs that had been cut from the show, he jumped up and ran to the piano onstage to start playing one of the songs while the cast sang along. It was so fun!
After that, we were done with BroadwayCon for the day, and headed off to find some food. We ended up at Donoghue’s Irish Pub, since it was close to both our hotel and the theatre where we would be seeing a show at 8. Sarah and I split an appetizer sampler tray and some curry fries, then headed over to the theatre. Hello, Dolly! was excellent. Amazing costumes and gorgeous technical elements, and BERNADETTE FREAKING PETERS as Dolly. Oh, not to mention Victor Garber, Gavin Creel, and Kate Baldwin. *sigh* After the show, we headed back to our room and crashed, exhausted from a full day of Broadway awesomeness.
Stay tuned for part two of my trip recap, hopefully coming soon!