Set to take place Jan. 22-24, 2016, at the New York Hilton Midtown, BroadwayCon was created as a one-of-a-kind weekend that will bring theatre fans together with the performers and creators of their favorite shows.
The event promises "panels, performances, workshops, keynotes, autograph and photo opportunities, concerts, meet-and-greets, Q&As and a lot more."
According to Rapp, the "origin story" of BroadwayCon dates back to the early days of Rent on Broadway when he was starring as Mark in the landmark Jonathan Larson musical at the Nederlander Theatre. It was there he met BroadwayCon co-creator and original Rent fan Anelli outside the stage door.
"I met Melissa when she was 16, outside the Nederlander Theatre after Rent," he said. "I started communicating with her and a bunch of other people, who were also active on AOL Rent chat boards. This was before 'stage dooring' became this hectic crazy thing. Sometimes there were just a couple people outside the theatre. Not hundreds like it is today. I was 24 at the time, and I would talk to them and get to know them."
The two ultimately became close friends and Anelli went on to write the New York Times best-selling book "Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon." Through her company Mischief Management, LLC (co-owned with her business partner Stephanie Dornhelm), Anelli organized the annual Harry Potter conference LeakyCon (hosted by the Harry Potter fan site, The Leaky Cauldron), which has now morphed into GeekyCon. After Rapp attended GeekyCon, which included the actor performing a "La Vie Boheme" parody song all about the different fan-doms, Anelli and Dornhelm approached the actor with the idea of creating a convention geared specifically toward the Broadway community.
The team conceived BroadwayCon as a three-day event that will give fans an all-access experience with performers, musicians, dancers, choreographers, writers, designers and more. Anelli and Dornhelm's Mischief Management, LLC, is also the organizer of BroadwayCon.
Rapp said BroadwayCon will be "much more democratized" compared with other large-scale conventions like ComicCon and added that "part of the mission is to be charitable."
Tickets, which go on sale March 15, will include built-in access to autographs and photo opportunities with Broadway professionals. In addition, a portion of all proceeds from tickets benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
"We want this to be a way that theatre artists can directly interact with fans," he said. "We're all human beings, and we're all part of this community together. Beyond on-on-one interactions, we want to give up-close-and-personal experiences of the shows from panels, too."
While programming is still being mapped out, Rapp revealed a few ideas on his wish list.
"We've already begun asking fans what they'd like to see via our Twitter account, but I think it would be great to have panels on some of the classic shows from Broadway – a roundtable forum with the creators on how those shows happened. There's also performance opportunities, where people could come together who might never get together and then perform songs they'd never sing. I've always been fascinated how rock and theatre influence each other. Also, having master class situations where young composers get to come on and share a new piece and then an established composer gets to talk to them about what they wrote. Tech people could do panels, too."
Rapp added that in its conception, BroadwayCon is not an industry-directed event. It is completely organized to generate an ultimate experience for Broadway fans.
Having come of age at a time when the Internet and social media hadn't truly changed how fans access Broadway stars, Rapp explained that BroadwayCon will also enable some of his colleagues to share the one-on-one experiences he had during Rent.
"It's a chance for us to interact and share and contribute and give back," he said. "When there's a community that organizes around something that they're passionate about, then it becomes special. As a theatre artist, when we're on stage, of course the applause is nice, but to directly interact and share with these people is very rewarding. Rent was extraordinary and so was the community of fans who gathered around it, and I'd love other theatre artists to experience just a taste of that."
For full details on participation options and special hotel rates for the convention, visit BroadwayCon.com.