BroadwayCon 2016. The MainStage crowd is buzzing with excitement. Between the extravagant BroadwayCon Opening Ceremonies and the Hamilton: History is Happening in Manhattan panel, a gentleman stepped on stage who had just as much energy as the 3,000 fans in the room. That man’s name was Ben Cameron.
Cameron introduced himself to the crowd respectively, but it wasn’t until he noted that we may recognize him from a very popular cast-recording called Wicked.
“Glinda, is it true you were her friend?” Cameron quoted in the exact dialect from the cast-recording as his line from the Original Broadway Cast Recording of the musical. What happened next, well the crowd went crazy, as 3,000 Broadway fans would do, but then the show went on.
In that small time slot which was designated to Cameron between the two big events on Friday, January 22, 2016, he became a BroadwayCon favorite. Over the Twittersphere, #BenLooksRealCute became a “thing,” and fans could not stop praising Cameron as the host who originally was just there to keep the crowd entertained for a small amount of time.
Over the course of BroadwayCon (January 22 - 24, 2016) and in the face of a blizzard, the fans saw more and more of Cameron in his element taking on the task of hosting numerous other events.
Cameron throughout the weekend was seen hosting the Broadway Jukebox, his own panel where he talked about being in the original cast of Wicked, Your Chance To Shine: Fan Karaoke on the MainStage, Avenue Q & A, and the YouTube Viewing Party Singalong.
I sat down with Cameron at the Broadway go-to spot, Schmackary’s a little under a week after the festivities concluded to talk about his experience at BroadwayCon.
How did you get involved with BroadwayCon?
I’ve known David Alpert (Artistic Director of BroadwayCon MainStage events) for many years. I had heard about BroadwayCon just last year. I was in Arizona with a friend and we were at a Tony Awards pool party. We were watching and they’re all like “yes we’re all very excited we’re going to BroadwayCon,” and that was the first I’ve heard of it. David reached out and he said to come in and that he could work some magic. I came in for Friday to host the Broadway Jukebox and they asked me last minute to fill in the time before the Hamilton panel. From there on in, they kept writing me every morning being like “Can you come back?” so it was all kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants. It was kind of wild and wacky and unexpected for the most part.
What was your experience with the fans and hosting the big events?
That people were so willing to come up and talk. I found that everyone else who was involved on our end felt the same way, like Lesli and Rob, we were all really happy that the fans felt that they were so much a part of it...that they didn’t have a problem coming to talk to us. The truth of the matter is, we’re exactly the same. You don’t get to be a Broadway performer without being a Broadway fan, it doesn’t exist. Standing in front of 3,000 people who were as geeked out about theater as I am, really puts in perspective, it’s so powerful.
Favorite moment from the weekend?
The YouTube dance party, I mean have you ever seen anything like that? It was crazy. Being on-stage with Anthony Rapp was huge for me because I just love him, and being that close to the man who created something that I responded so personally to.
Were you Star Struck to meet anyone?
I don’t really get Star Struck but if anybody, I walked past Tommy Tune a couple of times but I didn’t say anything. It was great to see Ben Vereen again. Yeah, probably Anthony (Rapp) because he just carried so much weight and his personal investment in this.
What were the challenges of creating programming in the face of a blizzard?
We were sitting in a room on the fourth floor and in the control room, the blizzard happened, you just see everyone firing off “what can we do?” and people are just spit-balling ideas. They came up with the Blizzard Party-Line which was a huge hit. We all just kind of jumped in. We all sat in corners of the Hilton and said “this is what we are going to do, this is what we are going to make happen.” David was just like “i’m just going to kind of throw you out there.”
Did you learn anything from hosting at such large convention?
The thing that strikes me the most is the energy of that many people. I host Broadway Sessions every week but there are only 120 seats if people are sitting on laps, compared to 3,000 people in a large hall geeking out at the same time. As a host, the most important part of hosting is listening and being present, not thinking about what you’re going to say but listening to what they’re saying. Having to pull the Anthony Rapp stuff out of my butt, I hadn’t planned on asking about the fan-fiction, but I was like “that is truly what I want to know right now, I wonder if anybody else does?” Trusting that.
Will you be back next year?
I think so. the stories I’m being told by the people putting it together is that I will back in a larger capacity. It’s exciting for me.
Where can people not in New York City catch you doing your thing?
We just started Periscoping for Broadway Sessions, follow @BwaySessions on Twitter and that’s every Thursday night. You can catch me acting crazy and the people I have performing. That’s the best way.
What are the Broadway Sessions?
The Broadway Sessions are live musical theatre themed variety shows. I like to say it’s like Ellen, but late at night and gayer. We’ve been doing it for 7 ½ years, which is completely insane to me. Every week we have a different group of Broadway performers come in. Because it’s late at night too, everyone lets their hair down. It’s a celebration of the community. There are performances, we play games with the audience, and sometimes give away theatre tickets. It’s a really intimate inside look it’s kind of like what the Broadway community is when we are not pretending to be cool.
Ben Cameron has been on Broadway in the original casts of Footloose and Wicked, as well as the a member of the cast of Aida, and has appeared in numerous touring productions. You can catch Ben Cameron hosting The Broadway Sessions every Thursday evening at The Laurie Beechman Theatre (42nd and 9th). Follow Ben on Twitter @BenDoesBroadway and check out more information on The Broadway Sessions here http://broadwaysessions.net/index.htm.
For full audio and details of my chat with Ben, listen below!!
2015 was a fantastic year! Interviews with Broadway's newest star, a Tony Award nominee, a queen, X-Factor contestant, and tons of fun events! See below for some highlights from the year!
Definitely the coolest and most down to earth person I have ever interviewed, and maybe even have met. Alex Brightman is rocking out with kids on stage in the Broadway hit School of Rock: The Musical! Get to know Alex (trust us, you'll want to know him) in our interview with this leading man.
Everyone's favorite Queen of the Broad-way, Lesli Marghertia, who we talked to about the Broadway show Dames at Sea, being "LOUD" in Matilda, cardboard Edward, and her solo shows.
Broadway's genius, Lin Manuel Miranda and the cast of Broadway's mega-musical Hamilton signed albums for fans after Miranda did a Q&A with the audience at Barnes and Noble on the UES to celebrate the release of the physical Hamilton cast recording. We all know everyone is itching to hear anything and everything that comes out of his mouth.
This month brought so many different fun events! May we always be "SATISFIED" because Hamilton's Broadway cast album dropped this month. Now everyone can rap the entire show, even if they haven't seen it....like us. We had the BC/EFA Flea Market, Doctor Zhivago OBC recording release event, Ramin Karimloo's BB King's solo show, and then one of our favorite moments.....Will Swenson and Ramin Karimloo's Miscast of Les Miserables.
August and July 2015
August brought upon Ramin Karimloo's final show as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway. In July, we saw Idina Menzel live in concert, and what beats hearing her sing some Wicked tunes live?! Nothing really.
Whether it be Tony Award nominations, or Stars in the Alley, May was about Broadway (as was every other month HAHA!) Got to watch some free Broadway performances right in Shubert Alley, as well as interview TWO TIME Tony Award nominee, Andy Karl, who was performing in On The Twentieth Century.
The first interview of the year with Miss. Rachel Potter from Broadway and the X-Factor, after many years of trying to schedule one (since EVITA)!!
These were just some of the amazing highlights from 2015, we hope that 2016 is just as wonderful!!! For more videos from this past year, be sure to check out our YOUTUBE! Thank you for all the support in 2015!!!
Alex Brightman Talks About Being a Leading Man in School of Rock, Creativity, Intermission Antics, and More!
If you’re ready to rock, then you have come to the right review! School of Rock: The Musical! if you haven’t heard already, is Broadway’s newest smash hit! Here are the facts: Warner Brothers Records released the cast album on December 4, 2015,of the show, which is based on the 2003 hit movie of the same name. You know the music is going to be good, I’m sorry, GREAT, because the songs were written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater, plus, you’ll also get to hear a few numbers that you may remember from the film. The cast recording was produced by Grammy Award-winner, Rob Cavallo.
On to the fun stuff. Let me start off with two words, Alex Brightman. The recording features Brightman, who is the newly-slated Rock Star of Broadway. I had seen the show in previews, and saw Jonathan Wagner kill it as Dewey, but I am more than ecstatic to head back to School of Rock in the near future to watch Brightman shine. Just listening to the first track on the album made me place him at the top of Mount Rock...(already making inside jokes with whomever has heard the album, whoops!). Really though, he is definitely in a top spot on my Broadway favs list. You can feel Brightman’s energy in each track that he leads, just by putting in a pair of headphones. He’s just fantastic.
Speaking of Mount Rock, the opening track “When I Climb To The Top of Mount Rock,” already proves Brightman to be perfect for this role. To be honest, I haven’t seen the movie since it came out, so to me, listening to this album retold a story that I had a slight memory of, and Brightman has wonderfully reinvented Dewey Finn.
Of course, I can’t believe I have gotten this far into the review without mentioning Sierra Boggess, because COME ON, it’s Sierra Boggess. Lloyd Webber knows Boggess very well, and has worked with her before (Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies), so he knows how to showcase Boggess’ beautiful, classical, range. What is so great though, is that Boggess (who plays Principal Rosalie Mullins) has this magnificent ballad in Act 2, called “Where Did The Rock Go?” and this song demonstrates how Boggess can flawlessly master a pop/rock number. The song’s message came to me as “Don’t lose yourself, even if you happen to get off track, and never be afraid to let go every once in awhile.”
Mamie Parris (Patty) and Spencer Moss (Ned), as well as the adult ensemble, display a great deal of talent on the album. Let’s move on though, to the pint-sized stars of this show. THE KIDS.
There are earlier songs on the album where you say “hey, these kids are pretty good,” but once I heard “You’re In The Band” and “Stick It To The Man,” I had no doubt that these kids have starpower streaming through every bone in their bodies. If you’re looking for a song that tugs at your heartstrings, SoR has that too. “If Only You Would Listen,” makes me want to shed a tear every time I give it a listen (but I can’t, I’m in public). Once you hear it, you will remember that every single person has felt that way at some point in their life. Also it reminds me that these kids are more talented than I will ever be. Giving a quick shout-out to Bobbi Mackenzie, who can SANNNGGG.
One of the best things about this album, and the show overall is that it appeals to everyone. Lloyd Webber said he took on the project because he wanted to prove that music has an impact on kids. Yes, the show is a great one for kids to experience. Though the music is fun to listen to, be mindful that it also drops language that young ones may not be used to hearing everyday. This only makes it more hilarious for adults, because we are listening to Dewey fit his outgoing personality into an element that is completely out of his own. #IThoughtYouWereAllABunchOfLittleDouchbags
This album features dialogue/short scenes, which I think will paint a picture for those who may not have the opportunity to see the show on Broadway (until it comes around on tour and to the West End)!
In a wrap-up, it’s a Kick-Ass cast recording (I apologize for the language), and the cast will keep those songs running through your head for days. Here are my top 3 picks off the album: “When I Climb To The Top of Mount Rock,” “You’re In The Band,” “Where Did The Rock Go?” Let me know your favorite song off the album!
School of Rock: The Musical - Original Broadway Cast Recording is available on Itunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and probably a bunch of other places where you can buy rockin’ music. Go see the album performed LIVE at the Winter Garden Theatre! For more info, you can visit http://schoolofrockthemusical.com/.
Written by Laura Furlipa
A Look Back