A round-up of reviews of Musical Con – the brand new London event celebrating musical theatre.
Taking place last weekend, Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 October 2022, at the ExCel in East London, the convention had an extensive schedule of events, including West End show spotlight performances, a marketplace to buy merch, indepth panels going backstage and behind-the-scenes of shows, previews of brand new shows, and special performances.
The reviews coming in largely offer praise to the event organisers, who provided a packed schedule of performances, panels and competitions to fans.
Some of the “notes for next year” focused on sound issues, with overspill sound from the main stage into other areas, particularly the Q&A panels – which were highlights for many of the participants.
Here’s hoping that this becomes an annual event.
"The West End’s first ever musical theatre fan convention kicked off with a bang"
"To begin with, there were many things that Musical Con did right. It hosted a series of illuminating panels that allowed attendees to better understand the work that goes into bringing production from page to stage. This also opened the door for interesting and vital conversations about inclusivity and diversity within the industry, particularly during the panel entitled, "Why Representation Matters in All Areas of Theatre"."
"Throughout the day, there were issues with sound quality - mainly as the main stage often drowned out whatever was happening in the panels."
"While there were lots of performances running throughout the day, attendees who were not participating in workshops or spending extra money on 'meet & greets' were also not given much to do"
"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"
"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"
"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."
"The purpose of Musical Con is clear: to bring the musical theatre community together, give them more of a voice and learn something from each other. It achieved exactly that. Especially in these financially desperate times, the ticket price starting from £45 can be steep, but it is worth saving up for."
"There were other workshops and masterclasses that started at 10:00am, which some people were late for, through no fault of their own. What’s worse is that it need not have happened – all the organisers needed to do was open the doors earlier than they did."
"Some of the merchandise stalls were very closely bunched together, in a section called ‘Marketplace’, which led to overcrowding and bottlenecks."
"... listening to Kayla Lomas-Kirton, the resident choreographer at Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, Tom Jackson Greaves, who recently choreographed a stage adaptation of The Book Thief at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton, and before that a production at the Watermill Theatre in Berkshire of Whistle Down The Wind, and Gary Lloyd, choreographer and associate director of Heathers the Musical, currently at The Other Palace, was an insightful experience"
"Participants in dance classes seemed to be satisfied with their experiences. But I wouldn’t have forked out for photo and autograph opportunities"
"There’s a lot going on at Musical Con. And sadly, this is slightly to the detriment of the event. It’s very loud. Very, very loud... The whole event is in just one hall at ExCel, so the music and shouting from the workshops easily carries across to the main stage. It’s distracting at best, but at worst it completely spoils the performances on stage"
"...when this event is good, it’s fantastic. The opening performance on the main stage featured six West End icons performing a real mix of classic show tunes and more recent hits. Highlights were Ben Forster with his goosebump-inducing performance of ‘The Music of the Night’, Alice Fearn charming us with ‘Into the Unknown’ and Trevor Dion Nicholas thrilling the crowd with ’Friend Like Me’. And it was an absolute treat to hear the crowd erupt when Layton Williams burst onto the stage in his icon-making role from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie."
"A new event will always have issues, but Musical Con has some work to do for next year to make the event more accessible and find a way of controlling the noise levels. It’s also an expensive day, at £45 for the most basic day ticket"