The first wave of tickets for BroadwayCon, a new convention just for theater lovers, went on sale Sunday. Within 48 hours, they were sold out.
Though more tickets will be released in July, it's a promising start to the first-of-its-kind event, the brainchild of “Rent” star Anthony Rapp and Melissa Anelli (head of The Leaky Cauldron, a Harry Potter fan website, and founder of GeekyCon). And it’s all thanks to the pair being mutual fans of each other’s work.
“I was one of the original ‘Rent’ fans, sleeping outside the Nederlander Theatre for tickets when I was 16,” says Anelli, explaining how she first met Rapp. “Anthony came to (then-called) LeakyCon in 2013. I’d had the idea for BroadwayCon earlier that month, but held off from asking him about it until after he had been to one of our events and seen what we could do.”
Rapp was quick to jump onboard. Ever since, the pair have been strategizing to ensure that BroadwayCon, taking place Jan. 22-26, 2016, is the kind of event they’d want to attend themselves. “The typical conference model these days is to put the talent behind tables all day where they charge for autographs and photographs,” Anelli says. “It makes the primary activity of the conference standing in line.”
The downside to ditching that approach is that tickets cost more up-front than at a comparable event. For example, it’s way cheaper to visit New York Comic Con for a day (about $40) than BroadwayCon ($125, with VIP passes going for $600), but the latter includes photos and autographs in the ticket price. That means less money for artists (shout-out to Sylvester Stallone, who wanted $445 per pic at NYCC 2013), but it’s worked for Anelli at GeekyCon.
“Every single performer, without fail, has wanted to return to our event once they have come to it once. Everyone tends to comment on how inclusive and exciting it is,” Anelli says. “We based it around what we’d most want to do as fans, and it paid off. … When the talent enjoys it as much as the fans, we’ve found, everyone wins.”
Confirmed guests thus far include Sirius Broadway’s Seth Rudetsky, LaChanze (“The Color Purple,” “If/Then”), Telly Leung (“Godspell,” “Wicked,” “Glee”), Andy Mientus (“Les Miserables,” “Spring Awakening”) and Skylar Astin (“Spring Awakening,” “Pitch Perfect”). The list is updated periodically at broadwaycon.com.
Asked how they’re selecting artists, Anelli explains: “Diversity is incredibly important to us: Our guests will span the full range of race, age and ethnicity. Anthony and I were pretty dismayed at the Oscar nominations, and we’re committed to making sure that kind of thing never happens at BroadwayCon.”
About 3,200 attendees are expected per day at BroadwayCon. What can fans look forward to? “Workshops, master classes, Q&As, talkbacks, panels, etc.,” Anelli says. “We’re not limited by anything here, only our imaginations, and that’s both freeing and scary, but we are working with a lot of top-tier talent to make it amazing."