PBS Ventures Into Reality TV
'Broadway or Bust' to spotlight high-school musical theater performers
PBS President Paula Kerger isn't calling the network's new docu-series "Broadway or Bust" a reality TV offering. But it kind of is.
The three-part show, which debuts in September, spotlights the National High School Musical Awards, known as "The Jimmys." The annual awards program and week-long boot camp in New York accepts and trains 60 of America's top high-school musical theater performers and gives the best actor and actress a shot at bragging rights and stardom. Think the "Glee Project" but for the Great White Way.
"It's not really a competition although it is a competition," Kerger told reporters on the first day of the Television Critics Associations' press tour Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif. "'Broadway or Bust' is a great way to actually showcase the talent of young people. I'm hoping that not only is it of interest to a broader audience who want to watch talented young people at the top of their game, but really encourages young people to think about the arts."
Young people like Mason Park, 17, a "Broadway or Bust" participant, who said Fox's "Glee" inspired him to pursue his theater dreams. Like Chris Colfer's character Kurt, Park (the guy pictured in the green shirt) was bullied at his North Carolina high school before moving to California.
"I wanted to get away from such a negative environment where I couldn't express my art and I couldn't continue working on my passion and freely doing musical theater without fear of bullying or getting beat up and stuff in school," Park said. "'Glee' helped me personally overcome certain obstacles in my life and become a much more confident and strong musical theater performer."
For kids like Park, perhaps "Broadway or Bust" will do the same.
"Broadway or Bust" premieres Sunday, Sept. 9, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.