On-Air Highlights

"Broadway or Bust' goes behind scenes as nation's top high school musical theater stars compete on Broadway

Written by witf.org | Sep 3, 2012 4:00 AM

It’s non-stop drama when 60 of America’s top high school musical theater performers arrive in New York City this summer for an intensive week of “theatrical boot camp” as they vie for a shot at stage stardom in the ultimate national theater competition. The annual event is the subject of the new three-part primetime series, BROADWAY OR BUST, airing September 9, 16 and 23 at 8 p.m.

BROADWAY OR BUST will be the first-ever TV series to capture the behind-the-scenes coaching and grueling rehearsal schedule leading up to the National High School Musical Theater Awards (NHSMTA).  Popularly known as “The Jimmy Awards”—named in honor of renowned Broadway theatre owner and producer James M. Nederlander—this national competition culminates in a unique weeklong New York experience—a make-it-or-break-it week of rehearsals, coaching and auditions that are capped by an awards event on a Broadway stage in front of a live audience and a panel of high-profile judges.

“WGBH is thrilled to be working with Lance Shultz and the NHSMTA to bring audiences across the country a look at the enormous talent of these young performers, and the emotional process they endure as they take on a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete at ‘The Jimmy Awards’,” says WGBH Executive Producer of Lifestyle Productions, Laurie Donnelly.  “We believe that these performers will truly touch the hearts of viewers as they have ours, positioned against the magical backdrop of Broadway.”

Part competition, part performance and part non-fiction drama, BROADWAY OR BUST will capture the highly charged atmosphere as the country’s most talented teens are plunged into the theatrical capital of the world to compete for a shot at Broadway and college scholarships. In addition to being hosted by Broadway stars Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox surprise visits and cameo appearances by some of today’s biggest Broadway names will offer the kids insider perspectives and tips about working on the Great White Way.

“Full of captivating performances, compelling characters and dramatic storylines, this series will pull back the curtain to show viewers the whole process—the talent, ambition, drive, vulnerability, discipline, resiliency, dreams dashed and dreams fulfilled—both the highs and lows of what it takes to make it to Broadway,” says BROADWAY OR BUST executive producer, writer and director, Lance Shultz.

The series begins as young talent from all over the country try to catch their big break at highly competitive, regional musical theater awards competitions in over 30 cities including, San Diego, Memphis, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.  Next, follow the finalists in New York for a grueling and energizing week of behind-closed-door performances, voice and acting sessions. The final hour will showcase “The Jimmy Awards,” at New York’s Minskoff Theatre, the finalist performances, the celebrity hosts and presenters, and the naming of the winners—the top male and female performers.

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