Sitting in the MainStage Auditorium at BroadwayCon today, something struck me as I looked over the balcony at thousands of people going nuts about what they were seeing on stage: There are lives now made better, because of BroadwayCon.
This wasn't just a convention. No, this was an event that told its attendees that what they felt about theatre was something special and that they weren't alone.
Over the course of the past two days, I've heard incredible story after incredible story. From long journeys through the night to get there, to last minute surprise tickets from parents but the most memorable stories I've heard were from the people that told me what this event has done for them.
I spoke with a young woman named Anna from New Jersey. Anna is a freshman in high school and loves all things Broadway. Coming from a small school, with no drama program, she's shy about sharing her love of being on stage with her classmates. But after meeting and talking with other students here, she told me she now has the confidence to go back to her school to try to start a drama club.
I spoke with a young boy named Adrian from Long Island. He was wearing a Hamilton t-shirt, so I asked him if he wanted to be the next Lin Manuel Miranda. "Yes, I already wrote 3 musicals and am going to start writing another one when I get home." He's 12.
Emily and her dad, Rich, drove 5 hours from upstate New York to be here. Emily told me that while she was thrilled to be here, she understood the cost of it.
"Both my parents are teachers. So for him to take off work to come here, that costs money."
But money was the furthest thing from Rich's mind. When talking about parents supporting their children's love for theatre he said,
"They need to. Coming to NYC with my wife is what got Emily interested in theatre. So if they've never taken their kids to see a show, they need to."
I spoke with a high school student named Kris, who made a point to remind me is name was spelled with a "K". He told me that until today, he had been in the closet. But being around students his age that were openly gay has given him the courage to go home and come out to his family and friends.
I finally spoke with a very serious young woman named Ashley. I asked her what she's going to take away from this event. Without hesitation she said, "That I'm going to be performing on that stage next year." She told me that she's making it her goal to be a big enough star that they'll ask her to be a panelist someday. I believe her.
These are just some of the thousands of stories that are going to come from this weekend. The ripple effect from what happened here and what these panels, workshops and performances did for those who were here will last a generation.
So thank you BroadwayCon. You started something special and we're all better because of it.
Title Photo: Monica Simoes