Musical Con…..Musical Theatre Musings Thoughts
It has finally arrived….the long awaited and much talked about Musical Con. Today (22nd October 2022) the UK’s first every event of its kind. I was lucky enough to attend today so here are my highlights and even better ifs…..
Musical Con – Highlights:
- I adored the backstage talks! For those that weren’t able to attend there was a huge array of talks focuses on the more behind the scenes things, this included talks from the costume makers, why representation in theatre matters, how to write a musical (an interview with Toby Marlow), a panel with some top choreographers and puppetry on the West End. All of these talks were filled with people who knew their stuff and genuinely had something really interesting to say on the matter. My tip is that seats are limited so if a particular talk interests you get there before the previous talk ends so you can snag a seat when people leave!!
- The performances on the main stage. My top performance was the ‘Going Green’ segment where we got to see 4 Elphabas on stage together and interviewed about their time on the show. They even performed ‘Defying Gravity’ as a foursome which nearly blew the roof off the ExCel Centre. This was a unique moment and something you couldn’t see elsewhere so a definite highlight for me.
- Supporting small stagey businesses. There were quite a few stagey small businesses that I had been following on Instagram for a while that I finally got to see their products (and the owners) in the flesh as well as discovering other stagey shops. I can’t reveal what I brought as they were gifts but loved supporting small businesses. I would recommend waiting until later in the day to go around this area as it thinned out a bit around 3pm although if after something in particular then head there asap as many items were selling out.
- Seeing so many top class West End performers and backstage crew in one room. Where else could you see Aimee Atkinson, Layton Willaims, Shanay Holmes, Alice Fearn, Louise Dearman, Tom Scanlon, Jenna Russell and more!
Musical Con – Even Better If:
- The layout could do with tweaking…. for example the layout of the backstage area with all the talks right next to the main stage. Whilst headphones were provided to be able to hear the talks at some points it was massively distracting to hear the vocals and the cheers from the main stage. Also as you needed headphones it meant that the number of people that could attend the talks were quite limited. I get that the organisers wanted this area to be visible to encourage people to go to the talks on a whim but maybe reconfiguring it slightly would have been useful.
- More stalls and more consideration to the layout of the stalls…. whilst I loved the small businesses I would have liked to have seen more of them as well as a bigger range of businesses. I appreciate that the organisers can’t force people to exhibit there but maybe having different zones could have been fun – i.e. professional training zones/ fan merch zone/ photo ops from the shows/ then maybe things such as dancewear. I would have also have liked a chance to buy things that you may not get to buy elsewhere – signed posters etc (I’m thinking West End flea market vibe) which makes it feel like you got something really special. At points there were some areas of exhibition around popular stalls which you couldn’t get near, let alone past where as some of the college stands which were larger were empty.
- More variety in the workshops.…or at least reassurance as to the standard that would be expected to attend many of the workshops sounded interesting but I didn’t book onto any as I was fearful that it would be packed full of those on the verge of breaking into the industry. There were also a few workshops such as the acting through songs one by Louise Dearman which I would have loved to attend as a spectator, but it wasn’t clear in the description if participation was required. I had a nosy looking into some of the workshops and again some of them seemed VERY crowded(Layton Williams ETAJ workshop I’m looking at you). I would also love some practical workshops maybe linked to the backstage side of things i.e stage makeup for example.
A few other tips…..
- There was not a huge amount of food and drink within the venue so be prepared to leave the exhibition around lunchtime (and miss some of what is happening) or bring your own.
- Come in cosplay – there were a few people dressed up….maybe 25% but everyone who did dress up got numerous appreciative smiles and photos being taken of them. I know that if it happens next year I will be dressing up!
- Make sure on the way in you pick up a free event programme.
- Most importantly have fun!!!
Overall I had a fun time and it was a great vibe in the room , surrounded by so much love for musical theatre. I really hope that this is the first of an annual event and that each year it gets bigger and bigger but it can only do this with the fans support. Imagine in a few years time where there can be numerous stages on top of the ones they had there today including one for amateur theatre, another for emerging shows/ new musicals.