Day one of BroadwayCon kicked off Jan. 22 at the Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Along Sixth Avenue, you could spot the Elphabas, Side Show Twins and Angelica Schuylers as theatre fans from all over the country and of all ages made their way to the first-ever convention of its kind.
Following check-in, the day’s events began with a host of meetups, ranging from "Party of One Meetup" to the "I Love Everything Meetup." Excited screams and bouts of singing were heard from the various rooms where the meetups were happening. A few were dedicated to certain composers, such as the "As If We Never Said Hello: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Fan Meetup," where a couple of Phantoms lurked in the shadows, and the "Sondheim Fan Meetup."
One meetup with a very devoted fan base was, unsurprisingly, "The Room Where It Happens: The Hamilfans Meetup." It wasn’t long before Hamilton fans got up on stage and began singing the musical numbers from the show, prompting the entire room to burst into song.
Fourteen-year-olds Sammi Tapper and Maddie Savitch were among those who had come to New York from Philadelphia for the weekend. Dressed up as Alexander Hamilton and Angelica Schuyler, the two were most looking forward to meeting other Hamilton fans and seeing the show panel later today. They will likely bump into the large number of Hamilton cosplayers roaming BroadwayCon.
Suzanne Green and Dana Steinheimer, who had come from New Jersey, were among those dressed as the Schuyler sisters. "We’re big fans of Broadway, and the chance to be with other fans is amazing," said Green. "It’s a chance to escape for a few hours," said Steinheimer, "to be somewhere else and see talented people, hear amazing voices and to be taken away for a little while.”
Asia Mayo, another young theatre fan from New Jersey who had come to the event with her brother, said that what inspired her most about her Broadway idols was their ability to combat stage fright – something she was familiar with. "We know how hard it is to get up in front of a bunch of people and not have a second try. It’s really nice to see people who do this for a living." Her brother LaJuan Miller, however, is hoping to perform on a Broadway stage one day. "Theatre is life," said an excited Miller.
Another show with a dedicated fan base was the "Seize the Day!: The Fansies Meetup." At the gathering, Playbill’s Tyler Mount called Dan DeLuca from the Newsies tour so that fans could chat with him. The conversation left one young BroadwayCon attendee speechless and in tears.
One group that was generating a lot of buzz was the "Marked! I’m…Marked! The Broadway Tattoo Meeup." Mia Signorino, from St. Louis, was among them. She lifted up her shirt sleeve to proudly reveal an arm covered in Broadway-themed tattoos. Among the shows represented were Wicked, her favorite, Guys and Dolls, Book of Mormon, Little Shop of Horrors, Kinky Boots and Hedwig.
Though her husband is also a big Broadway fan, Signorino was one of the many who had traveled to BroadwayCon on her own. She’d already been able to meet a handful of friends via the meetups and various Facebook pages.
Social media has been a helpful tool in the lead-up to the convention in getting fans and theatregoers alike to meet one another at the event. Michelle Meditz and Sierra Roach met through the BroadwayCon Facebook page after both had posted photos of their Playbill collections. After connecting online and swapping pictures, they arranged to meet up in person at BroadwayCon. "I’ve never been to a convention before, but when I heard there was one for theatre I was freaking out," said Meditz, who was dressed as Penny from Hairspray. "Because it’s Broadway!"
Meditz was one of the hundreds who could barely contain her excitement at the event this morning. The buzz in the air is surely a precursor to the incredible weekend ahead planned for Broadway fans.