This year was no different, as my colleagues and I headed east in mid-May to network with our peers, bounce ideas off of each others, listen in on expert panels, hear from performers and creative teams about the shows we may work on in the future and to just all around pinch ourselves for four days that we are blessed enough to be in the Broadway industry.
This year’s conference was no disappointment. The first night kicked off with a party at Bond 45 sponsored by PORGY AND BESS. The food and endless champagne were fabulous and not only did I get to see my beloved peers, but hello… Audra MacDonald, David Allan Grier and more of the PORGY AND BESS crew were in attendance. L-O-V-E Audra! That party was followed up by my first show (it was a play) of the week – PETER AND THE STARCATCHER starring Christian Borle ( Tom in “Smash”). This show is a telling of how Peter Pan came to be Peter Pan, and it is truly whimsical, witty and overall a bright and brilliant way to spend an evening laughing your arse off!
Tuesday brought the full-on conference activities including panels about engaging our audiences, Keynote Speaker Jonathan Tisch, round table discussions (invaluable) and more! This was also the day we heard from Celebrity Guest Speakers from NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, EVITA and OTHER DESERT CITIES. The highlight for me was Stockard Channing from OTHER DESERT CITIES. You may know her as Rizzo from GREASE if you were anything like me who was glued to movie musicals growing up:) The Tuesday night show was NEWSIES which I went to with my boss’ boss. I was obsessed with the film growing up, so I was especially excited to see this production. It was lovely to reminisce and hear the newly written songs that weren’t in the movie. The energy and dance athletics of this show were phenomenal. Tuesday ended with a fabulous party at John’s Pizzeria sponsored by THE BOOK OF MORMON. More champagne… this time with berries. The thrilling atmosphere of NYC catapulted my stamina to stay up mingling pretty late this night. No rest for the weary (although, I wasn’t weary at all).
With Wednesday came sessions about digital marketing (so fascinating) and season tickets followed by more creative conversations with guests from ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS (hilarious play) and PORGY AND BESS. Wednesday brings with it not one show, but TWO! I saw ONCE for my matinee. I predict this show will win the Tony Award for Best Musical. It’s just so heartfelt and different… no over-the-top costumes or sets. It’s just so simply done and it really allows the beautiful music and lead performers to shine in their own little world. I plan to see the indie film this was based on soon and I have been repeatedly listening to/singing the cast recording. My evening film was WAR HORSE at Lincoln Center. You… must… see this! It won the 2011 Tony Award for Best Play, but it is soooo much more than a play. It is truly an epic theatrical spectacle. It’s based on the novel of the same name and both the novel and the play inspired the Steven Spielberg movie of the same name. After a few minutes, you forget the horse puppets on stage aren’t living horses. It is so real, so moving and gives me so much pride to have a soldier in my family. Parties sponsored by GHOST THE MUSICAL and the current Disney Broadway productions were also on the docket for Wednesday.
Thursday was the last day of the conference. We had a panel and open discussion about social media (my fave), more round tables and more creative conversations. Fabulous guests this day included Alicia Keyes (STICK FLY), Christian Borle and Kevin Del Aguila (PETER AND THE STARCATCHER), the company of THE BEST MAN (including, Candice Bergen, James Earl Jones, Kerry Butler, Angela Lansbury, John Larroquette, Eric McCormack, etc.), the cast of DEATH OF A SALESMAN (including Andrew Garfield and Philip Seymour Hoffman and the cast of VENUS IN FUR. And, oh year – Meryl freaking Streep moderated the DEATH OF A SALESMAN panel!!! She was so funny. My Thursday night show was none other than THE BOOK OF MORMON… finally! This brilliant (and, yes a little naughty) musical by the creators of “South Park” was so fantastic. Not only was it hilarious, it had the heart and showtune dynamics of a classic Broadway musical. It’s up there as one of my all-time faves. The after-party, sponsored by NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, paved way for me to get to meet stars of the show, Matthew Broderick and Kellie O’Hara. It was such an honor, as not only are these two fantastic stage performers, but “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is my all-time favorite movie!!! Ahhhh! My husband Luke had gotten into town by this time and he was there for the Bueller moment and he was the one who spotted documentary filmmaker Michael Moore on our way out of the hotel the party was held in. Michael (first-name basis now) was so nice!!! He really was just so genuine and he put up with our champagne induced chatter for quite a few minutes. Ha. I look forward to seeing what he churns out next, although he told us he “is just chilling” right now:)
So, that was my “work” in New York. Stay tuned for the blog about my couple days of “play”…