BroadwayCon just ended and I need to put all of my emotions somewhere (emphasis on the EMO) so buckle up, friends.
This was my third year in a row returning to BroadwayCon, so part of me knew what to expect. Anyone who has been to a convention for their own personal nerdy outlet – whether it’s comics or Harry Potter or YouTube – knows the magic of celebrating with thousands of strangers who are as nerdy as you. And there’s no shortage of that at BroadwayCon. I know to expect a lot of theater nerds dressed as their favorite characters, big groups of people breaking out into song, seeing my favorite Broadway actors, and spending an entire weekend feeling welcomed by fellow Broadway fans. So even though we know all of these equally nerdy people exist, and we can all very well expect a fun event that manages to leave you simultaneously invigorated and exhausted, what exactly makes this weekend so special? How is it that we leave with our hearts fuller than we ever could have anticipated, even though we’ve had our outfits planned for months and already know our schedule and have been counting down the days since we purchased our tickets?
I actually think there’s a simple answer. If I had to pick one unique reason why BroadwayCon shines such a light on this community, it’s the important and deliberate lack of walls.
There were several times throughout the weekend when the performers and creatives who we admire so much reminded us that the audience is just as much a part of the theater experience as the actors on stage. We were reminded time and time again how the nature of theater is inclusive and immersive, allowing for the wall between “celebrity” and audience member to be shed with little effort. There’s a very clear admiration we all have for one another, and it’s not only reserved for the folks who have starred in Broadway shows and earned Tony awards. Over the course of the weekend, we experienced the talents of young and undiscovered performers through singing competitions and dance parties; we all gathered on stage – some of us for the first time, others for the hundredth – to bond over our favorite Tony performances; we played pictionary and trivia with the people who sing on our favorite cast recordings. There are so few places I can think of where this mutual love and kindness exists on such a personal level. Being an attendee at BroadwayCon makes you feel just as important as the actors and voices and stories that you’re there to celebrate.
And that is no small feat.
The attention and understanding that goes into planning, developing, and executing such a unique experience is beyond what most of us can probably imagine. From the friendly volunteers who greet you at the door to check your badges, to the lively and entertaining hosts and commentators of panels and workshops, the excitement was palpable at all times. It never felt like you were invading someone’s space or that you didn’t belong. Because at the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of dorks who, for some reason, have found a special connection to each other, to the world around us, and to ourselves through theater. And whether that’s shared with 20 or 200 or 2,000 people, it’s a simple but powerful reminder that the Broadway community welcomes everybody.
The idea of breaking down walls and building up kindness is exactly what we all need right now. BroadwayCon is the perfect place to start a new year, get inspired to do whatever motivates you, and know that wherever you’re headed, you’ve got an entire community rooting for you. Thank you for giving us such a perfect weekend, BroadwayCon. Can’t wait to see you again next year.