23 October 2022
3.5 out of 5.0 stars
A musical theatre fan convention in London you say? Well, yes! Of course I had to attend Musical Con’s first year at the Excel in October!
I attended on the Sunday, as I already had two shows booked for Saturday, and as it was the first year for the con, I wanted to check it out on a single day first.
Let’s start with the positive parts. There was A LOT happening at Musical Con! Interview panels, performances, workshops, discussion panels, vendors, costume contest, lip synch battle, and more! A fully packed schedule with so much interesting and exciting programming, as well as photo-ops and signing sessions (which I’m personally not super interested in). Workshops and “stage door” features needed to be purchased separately in advance.
The vendors alley was definitely my favourite feature of the con! There were many theatre related vendors, including small businesses selling art and crafts based on all your favourite shows and theatres. &Juliet and Disney on Stage also featured with big stalls with photo-ops, which I absolutely loved. More of those exhibitors next year please!
I generally enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere and joy that filled the hall, chatting with fellow musical theatre enthusiasts, and seeing so many fantastic costumes.
Now for the teething issues, which a brand new convention set up by people who haven’t organised conventions before is bound to have. There were a few logistical issues that can definitely be improved upon.
First off, the main stage was “festival style”, which meant there was no seating available (there was a small wheelchair platform, and a few access seats provided) which is a big drawback for an all-day event at a convention. Especially since this stage hosted the cast interviews and showcases. I’m really not sure why this decision was made, interview panels should definitely always have seating available. In addition to this, the food court was located right next to the main stage, with limited tables and chairs, which were obviously all moved towards the main stage and occupied by people just watching the show, not leaving much space for people actually wanting to eat.
I really hope they re-think this approach. After all, theatres do tend to have seating so there’s nothing wrong with providing seating for musical theatre related stagey bits, making it more accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
The biggest issue though was the smaller stage, which was used for discussion panels throughout the con. Unfortunately it was so close to the main stage and several workshop spaces, that it was almost impossible to hear what was being said. The workshop spaces were only separated by cloth screens, and as the hall itself has very high ceilings, the sound carried quite far. And along with the amplified sound of performances on the main stage, sound was a complete mess on the “backstage theatre” stage.
We were provided headphones, from Silent Tours, to hear the panellists at all, but sound was murky at best, and interspersed with loud feedback and scratching noises at worst. The main stage sound also carried through panellist’s microphones, so turning up the volume also turned up the noise.
As someone with auditory processing difficulties, this made listening to panels almost impossible for me, which was very unfortunate as these panels were what I was looking forward to the most. I only caught about 50% of what was being said, and was very exhausted from trying to process the noise through the headphones.
This definitely needs improvement! A panel stage can’t be that close to the main stage, which was very loud to facilitate the performances and showcases.
Despite these issues, I do think that Musical Con was a roaring success, and hope it comes back for another year, having learned valuable lessons from this run.
What a brilliant idea to create a convention for the fans!