Thursday, December 8

Musical Con – ExCel Centre

London’s first ever musical convention opened at the ExCel Centre this weekend. Shanay Holmes not only organised the whole event but impressively hosted the main stage for the whole day. Musical Con was truly for the fans with spaces for fans to perform and show off their creativity with their cosplaying skills!

The queue entertainment from West End Musical Choir set the tone for the day with a huge sing-a-long of some favourite musicals. The opening show was great with students accompanying the West End guests. Anyone with VIP passes was allowed near the stage which meant that you did not have to stay at the stage to hold a good spot for the day.

There were plenty of photo opportunities throughout the venue. From a musical con sign, to the Delorian from Back to the Future. It was also great to see some of the Disney on Stage costumes and &juliet costumes up close too! We also enjoyed the Waitress and Heathers photo set ups too. Disney also bought alone the exhibition from Covent Garden this summer. So, you could have a photo with Olaf’s summer scenery or The Lion King scene.

One of the highlights for me was hearing the Disney Puppetry talk with Gary Jordan who plays Zazu on the Lion King and Mikayla Jade who plays Sven in frozen. The talk gave us the opportunity to hear from the creatives who work on the puppets – Shaun Lati from Frozen and Jen Leach from Lion King. It was fascinating to hear about how the actors bring the puppets to life – with Mikayla in plank position throughout the show! It was amazing to see the puppets up close and hear about the work Shaun and Jen do to maintain them.

A lot of the stalls provided entertainment with interactive spin the wheels competitions from Box Office Radio, shots of Prosecco with a sing-a-long from Singeasy West End and lots of goody bags and pin badges! Another highlight was the Silent Disco Walking Tours who did a mini tour around the con. Complete with a musical soundtrack and cheesy dance moves.

The makers market had a whole selection of small businesses, with a range of products from embroidery kits to stagey candles. It was very popular with pin badges selling out in the morning! It was a great opportunity to meet the creators and see new products.

Back on the main stage we enjoyed seeing The Star Of Musical Con competition. With an amazing array of talented singers competing to win the opportunity to sing at West End Christmas. All the singers got feedback from a panel of West End judges and the winner Joshua Williams had them all in tears. It was incredible to hear so many non-professionals perform at a professional level.

There was an array of workshops available throughout the day with dancing workshops taking place in two studios in the room and also a separate space for singing workshops and talks in the Webber Studio.

Photo: Jennifer Laishley

The venue itself presented a challenge, the workshops weren’t in separate rooms and consequently the music in all spaces was competing. At times this made it difficult to hear the talks or truly appreciate the music in one area. I’d also like to see next year’s event provide more seating and more food options. By the early afternoon a lot people were resting on the floor after the early start. I also hope some more West End shows are there to provide merch next year! Most of the merch stalls were really outdated. Hopefully there will be more than one Musical Con merch stall as the queues were very long all day.

While there is some room for this event to grow overall it provides a unique experience that is not to be missed! I can’t wait to go again next year and enjoy some new workshops. It’s wonderful to get previews of new shows to come and hear from show producers. I’m excited to see the array of opportunities that will be available next year. It was so nice to see so many groups of fans meet together for the first time, having spent the last few years only interacting online. Musical Con provides a free space for musical fans to express themselves, whether than be through cosplay, singing on stage or a unique collection of pin badges. Musical Con provided something for everyone, and you don’t have to be a hardcore fan to enjoy the day. A huge congratulations to

Chris Steward and Shanay Holmes and their team at West End Musical Productions for organising a stagey fun filled day.

Reviewer: Jennifer Laishley

Reviewed: 22nd October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★

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