What is Broadway Bound Live?

If you've been following along the Katharsis Media journey, you probably noticed that a few months ago, our team expanded quite a bit. Amid the flurry of local education programs, in-progress film productions, and community art projects, four new team members joined to make all of the aforementioned things run as smoothly as possible. One of those four people was me!

When I joined Katharsis this past November, I had a pretty decent idea for what was in store. I'd read up and scoured the website for more details on the artist co-op, the coworking space, etc., in preparation for my interview with company founder Candice Neu -- but really, I had only scratched the surface of what Katharsis is doing for our local arts community.

One of the most exciting programs that had slipped through my grasp was Broadway Bound Live. Thankfully, I've had the chance to delve into the details of this production as the new project manager, and now I get to share it here, with our readers.

So let's start with the question I get most frequently:

What is Broadway Bound Live?

Broadway Bound Live, or BBL if you chat about it frequently enough to need a shorthand like I do, is Katharsis Media's flagship production, and also the largest project we work on each year.

Standing now as a season-by-season journey, this independently produced documentary-style TV series follows 12 incredibly talented young people as they compete in weekly elimination rounds for the chance to receive a Director's Scholarship from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

Who is Broadway Bound Live?

Sure, that question might be a little iffy grammatically, but the who of Broadway Bound Live is the most important and most exciting part.

The 12 incredibly talented young people I mentioned before are all local, and from low-income families. They aren't born and bred musical elites. They haven't been in ballet and acting classes since they could speak, like those currently holding our entertainment industry hostage. They aren't skating their way towards a Broadway role out of sheer boredom or familial pressure.

They, unlike the other young people their age with the same capabilities but a different socioeconomic status, aren't able to chase their dreams. They are, as one contestant from season one put it so eloquently, are just looking for the opportunity to chase their dreams.

These artists juggle schoolwork, after-school jobs, family responsibilities, and more, as just another part of their daily lives. They spend their free time dreaming of ways to work hard and cultivate their talents further.

These incredible contestants do all of this while also training weekly throughout the semester with dance, performance, acting, and vocal experts. And you know what? Despite all the trials and tribulations -- which you'll get to watch when season one premieres -- they make it look simple.

Not the juggling act, not the having-way-too-much-responsibility-for-a-young-person part -- I know from my own experiences with childhood poverty that it's never simple.

But the decision to add another thing to their plate, to place a bet on themselves and their talents, to take the hard way to the top -- they made that look as simple as pie.

Why Broadway Bound Live?

Now, the structure of Broadway Bound Live might sound familiar to you, as it mirrors its TV-contest predecessors. Each week a contestant is voted out of the running, and must return to their lives while the others continue training and competing. At the end of the semester, one student is granted the Director's Scholarship, which allows them to attend AMDA -- a generous privilege previously reserved only for those whose families could afford the steep tuition rates.

But even so, Broadway Bound Live differs from the shiny package of internationally-loved hits like America's Got Talent in some small but significant ways .

This indie production has all the grit and glamor that comes with high-stakes competitions that culminate in life-changing opportunities, and all the heart that comes with working alongside hardworking and dedicated artists. The who then feeds into the why of Broadway Bound Live.

Each week, as you watch these young people further cultivate their talents and skills, you delve into the intricacies of the other facets of their lives that deeply affect their ability to practice, their frame of reference for the world, and the emotional heart of the creative work they put out. Rather than developing a one-sided relationship with a hyper-glamorized TV character, you get the chance to really know these incredible people as people.

Which, of course, makes each elimination round that much more palm-sweat-anxiety inducing for viewers because you genuinely want every contestant to win! And, as the behind-the-scenes people, the feeling remains -- it's impossible to not fall in love with each and every one of these artists.

Broadway Bound Live Season 1 Premiere

What I've learned about Broadway Bound Live can be wrapped up as such: there's really nothing else like it.

There's no other production reaching into the neglected, yet unbelievably rich with talent and promise, areas of our country between the two coasts. There's no other production made up -- in both cast and crew -- of such genuine, down-to-earth people.

While we're still on the edges of our seats, waiting to share the first season with the rest of the world, I'm honored as all get out to have supported this production, and excited for when viewers across the country can see this series and concur: there's really nothing else like Broadway Bound Live.

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