A Broadway reality show that I missed. But you shouldn’t.

If you’re a regular blog reader, you already know I love The Jimmy Awards (click here if you don’t know what the Jimmy I’m talking about).

And if you’re not a regular blog reader, throw your email in that little box in the upper left hand corner and subscribe so you don’t miss a Jimmy or a Freddy or a Joey!

Speaking of missing a Jimmy, I don’t know how in the name of any name I missed this . . . and frankly, like another Jimmy, Jimmy Swaggart, I feel like I’ve sinned against you for not bringing it to your attention earlier.

But I’m repenting and getting on my electronic knees and asking for your forgiveness in front of the Blog Gods . . .

A brand new reality show about Broadway (and those yummy Jimmies), debuted just last night on PBS called Broadway or Bust!

Ok, so PBS isn’t calling it a reality show . . . they’re calling it a “three-hour primetime documentary series that tracks the real life stories of America’s top high school musical performers, vying in the ultimate competition to find the nation’s best young theater stars.”

Look, they could call it a parking lot full of purple unicorns and swizzle sticks for all I care . . . as long as they air it.

I’ve been contacted about a half a dozen Broadway themed reality shows in the works . . . And I’m as eager as you are to see them come to fruition.  But since the Grease disaster a few years ago (at least it gave us Laura Osnes), it has been hard to get any network interested in what they see as happening only in our little corner of the country.

So a standing “O” to PBS and its supporters for getting this sucker on any station and in prime time.

Thanks to my Swaggarty sins, you may have missed the first episode.

But there are two more episodes on the next two Sunday nights at 8 PM on PBS.  So tune in.  (Get the full details here.)

It’ll remind you that Broadway, the place that frustrates so many of us daily, is also a place where so many dream about getting to someday.

And that makes those of us who work here now, the luckiest Kennys around.


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  • Janet says:

    The first episode is being repeated on Tuesday at 2:30 am on PBS in NY/CT (WNET)! Just checked.

    Thanks for the heads up!

  • Jeff Walsh says:

    You can also watch it online: http://video.pbs.org/video/2275810760

  • Just thinking out loud here, but I wonder if a Broadway reality show would do better if the winners would star in a national tour? Maybe they could land on Broadway for a couple of months after the tour or for the summer like Fela and Hair?

    And maybe several people could be cast, a la the tours of the top ten on So You Think You Could Dance and American Idol.

    Frankly, it might work better to have a bus and truck company that plays a week fifty cities than a major tour that plays in ten or twelve cities a year.

    Actually– a Godspell bus and truck competition would work really well.

  • Lois Jacobs says:

    Just watched the PBS special and it is nice to see hardworking teens who have talent and dream about making it on Broadway not Hollywood.

  • Lynn A. says:

    i watched it last night. very inspiring…and lots of talent to come…

  • Tricia Ostermann says:

    I caught the last 45 minutes of the episode (after seeing my friend post about it on Facebook, I immediately switched over to it). While it was fun to watch, I was also really bothered by it.
    I’m sure there are lots of behind-the-scenes things that we aren’t seeing, but all I was seeing were a bunch of young people singing inappropriate songs for their voice types/body types/age, etc., and trying really hard to scream it all out. I spent years training vocally in classical music and musical theater, and it was hurting me to watch most of these singers come screaming out of the gate, attempting to belt and riff and do all sorts of things their voices aren’t trained to do, and none of the vocal coaches were calling them out on it. It really bothered me. My girlfriend, who is a trained belter, actually left the room because she couldn’t listen to them hurting themselves anymore. If these kids continue singing the way they are and don’t seek the proper guidance and vocal coaching, they won’t be singing for long.

    Granted, they probably come to this event with their song already picked out, so getting them to switch it last minute would be too nerve-wracking, but I wish that the coaches would give them some sort of feedback about it nonetheless, and that PBS would air it so that other kids, watching and dreaming, can hear it, too.
    When I was there age, I was totally picking the wrong songs to sing. I would sing the songs I was obsessed with instead of the songs that were appropriate for who I was. And usually the songs the kids are obsessed with, every other kid is obsessed with, so everyone is trying to sing them. But, luckily, I had teachers who reined me in, and I learned what worked for me.

    When they were rehearsing as a large ensemble, they sounded AMAZING. Why? Because they weren’t trying to prove themselves. They became an ensemble. I wish people would tell them it isn’t all about the big belt-y money notes and it’s more about honing your craft.
    I’ll be tuning in to the next program to see the progression, and I’m hoping that the coaches get a little tougher on them.

  • Evelyn Doctor says:

    There is another wonderful 2010 documentary produced by Oprah called “Most Valuable Players”. It’s a movie not a reality show. You can learn more about the film at the website which is mostvaluableplayersmovie.com.

  • Hello All,

    Proud to say that one of my students is in “Broadway or Bust” because she performed at the 2012 Jimmys! At the tender young age of 15. You will be seeing her because she is a super nova of talent.

    Personally, I think the reality show thing has been way overdone. To death. I see this program as more of a documentary about youth in the arts.

    Cheers from a very proud theatre teacher,
    Nathalie Cunningham

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