Broadway or Bust

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Student and coaches participating in the 2012 National High School Musical Theater Awards share their experiences of the stage. Learn how to improve skills as a performer, with this collection of resources from Broadway or Bust. 

  • Acting in Vocal Performance

    A young performer is preparing a well-known and challenging song in this video adapted from Broadway or Bust. She works with a coach to find a successful way to connect to the song and accommodate her type of voice and temperament. He suggests specific ideas to think about while singing and uses a scene partner to help her build the interpretation.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Male Student's Winning Solo

    In his winning performance featured in this video from Broadway or Bust, Joshua Grosso sings a song in Italian from a recent American musical set in Florence and Rome—The Light in the Piazza. Although the audience may not understand the lyrics, the singer is able to convey the emotions of the song through his gestures and the expression of his voice. In this way, he gives a compelling performance of the song for an English-speaking audience.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Preparing to Perform

    A voice coach works with a young singer to help her connect her feelings and aspirations to the meaning of the song in this video from Broadway or Bust. The coach suggests that she become more vulnerable in her performance and open up to the emotions that the song evokes. The coach also helps the singer lessen the physical tension she is feeling by swinging her around as she is rehearsing.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Dealing with Rejection

    Although rejection is not easy, there are strategies that performers can use to manage it. In this video from the Broadway or Bust website, coaches and young performers outline ways to stay resilient, including having a life outside the performing arts and building a support group. Additional advice includes preparing well for an audition and doing one’s best work. It’s possible that a director may remember a performer for a future or a different part.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Connecting Emotion to Lyrics

    While performing “Before the Summer Ends,” from Dracula, The Musical, the young singer in this video from Broadway or Bust imagines a personal experience that helps him understand and present the emotions of the lyrics. Connecting personal experiences, actual events, or situations you could imagine to the words in a song is one way to build an interpretation. The connection does not need to be completely parallel: as the director notes in the video, a single word in the text may open up a connection to the piece. In this performance, the singer is imagining the emotions that he would experience if his girlfriend asked him to make a difficult promise.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Michael Feinstein Advises on Interpreting Lyrics

    Michael Feinstein, a well-known performer and expert on musical theater, coaches a student performer who is singing “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” a song with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. In this video adapted from Broadway or Bust, Feinstein notes that for Ira Gershwin, with whom he worked, the words of the verse were as important as the words in the chorus. Feinstein also points out how key details, such as the alteration of a single word or a single pitch, can affect the interpretation of the song.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Female Student's Winning Solo

    In her winning performance featured in this video from Broadway or Bust, Elizabeth Romero combines musical and dramatic elements in a way that makes her performance compelling. Although the song “Disneyland” from the musical Smile is not long, the performer gives a full sense of the character’s journey and what is important to that character.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Choreographing Large Groups

    Student performers are learning and rehearsing the dance for an opening number in which the entire ensemble appears in this video from Broadway or Bust. The choreographer leading the rehearsal is giving the performers dance steps, instructing them on rehearsal discipline, and inspiring them to make a personal connection to what they are performing. Speakers in the video reflect on the need to take care of themselves during long and physically demanding rehearsals.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Dealing with Stage Fright

    Although there are varied approaches to managing stage fright, a common theme in the comments from coaches and students is that confidence as a performer comes from practice and from thoroughly knowing the material you are going to perform. In this video from the Broadway or Bust website, students and coaches, including Broadway actor and coach Michael McElroy, discuss what causes stage fright and ways to approach it.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Vocal Coaching

    Broadway actor Leslie Odom Jr., one of the coaches and mentors for the annual National High School Musical Theater Awards competition, comments on what he has learned as a performer and coach, in this video from the Broadway or Bust website. Odom notes that different performers need different kinds of guidance. He also explains that he tries to inspire his students to take risks during their college studies and not pigeonhole themselves as a certain kind of performer.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Starring: Nicholas Wetherbee

    Student contestant Nicholas Wetherbee discusses the challenges he has overcome in order to make it to the competition. This profile is from the WGBH program Broadway or Bust.

    Grades: 6-10
  • Starring: Jaclyn Stickel

    Student contestant Jaclyn Stickel talks about the most difficult role she has played, which includes comedy but also honest complexities. This profile is from the WGBH program Broadway or Bust.

    Grades: 6-10
  • Starring: Elizabeth Romero

    Student contestant Elizabeth Romero discusses the preparation she needed to take in order to become the character of Lola in "Damn Yankees." This profile is from the WGBH program Broadway or Bust.

    Grades: 6-10
  • Starring: Evyn Mirasol

    Student contestant Evyn Mirasol talks about her role models and her great-uncle who is a well-known Filipino actor. This profile is from the WGBH program Broadway or Bust.

    Grades: 6-10
  • Starring: Adam Levy

    Student contestant Adam Levy discusses performing in his first musical and his role models in entertainment. This profile is from the WGBH program Broadway or Bust.

    Grades: 6-10
  • Starring: Elan Kramer

    Student contestant Elan Kramer discusses his artistic family and his role models in entertainment. This profile is from the WGBH program Broadway or Bust.

    Grades: 6-10
  • Starring: Chase Fischer

    Student contestant Chase Fischer discusses why performing is important to him and his role models in entertainment. This profile is from the WGBH program Broadway or Bust.

    Grades: 6-10
  • Starring: Nicolette Burton

    Student contestant Nicolette Burton talks about how she got into theatre and her role models in entertainment. This profile is from the WGBH program Broadway or Bust.

    Grades: 6-10
  • Starring: Hanna Berggren

    Student contestant Hanna Berggren talks about her dedication to relating to the character of Fred in "Once Upon A Mattress." This profile is from the WGBH program Broadway or Bust.

    Grades: 6-10
  • Starring: Mason Alexander

    Student contestant Mason Alexander discusses his role models in entertainment and the challenges he has faced. This profile is from the WGBH program Broadway or Bust.

    Grades: 6-10

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