This episode started off with the one on one coaching from mentors and the kids and progressed on to the choreography work, and then to more vocal coaching, and finally ended with performances in front of the judges (the judges’ showcase) where the judges were left to pick the top contenders.
At the beginning of the show they had Brittany had picked “And I Am Telling You” from Dreamgirls as her performance piece. I was worried about this for a couple of reasons. She’s extremely talented, but the song wasn’t really working for her. She was struggling and I couldn’t help but wonder why she picked the song. I understand that it’s a beautiful song that has been performed wonderfully by some very talented African American women….but should you pick the song to sing if you struggle with it?
Luckily, after some fantastic coaching by Telly Leung that concentrated on Brittany finding ways to sing the song HER way, without trying to be Jennifer Hudson or Jennifer Holliday, Brittany was able to dig deep and do a fantastic job on the song.
Evan, from Georgia, is a very intriguing person. He’s not the most talented vocally, but he has a charisma about him that more than makes up for it. He has a way of making everything a character. From the interview videos and the behind the scenes stuff, you can tell he is always thinking about the future and his career. It makes me wonder if he’ll make it. And if he doesn’t, will he continue to act, even if it’s not on Broadway?
Sabaa is from my home state of Tennessee. I didn’t know that until I looked her up on the PBS website. She has a beautiful voice and I loved hearing about her family. She comes from a family of people involved in law and medicine, so the arts is a departure for her. On the flip side, this girl is taking AP classes like they’re going out of style, so it has to be difficult for her to keep up with everything. She chose to sing “Light in the Piazza.” While her voice was beautiful, her coach really focused on her connecting with the audience and pulling herself out.
It was beautiful to see the final, and I think most productive, method that her coach, Schele, used. She took her right to the window and made her look outside while she was singing, all while asking her “Do you want this? Is this where you want to be?” Sabaa was so moved by this she started to cry. It struck something in her. With passion like that, aren’t you almost destined to be a star? I’d hope so. While everyone has areas they can improve, I think that motivation is a major part of getting where you want to be. Do you need talent? Yes. But you need the motivation even more. I must say, she’s one of my favorites. And that was even before I realized she was from Tennessee.
Josh from Florida. This guy didn’t win his regional competition. He was 2nd and ended up there as the winner couldn’t go. I feel badly for him because he’s feeling so much like the underdog. But in all truth, he doesn’t have to feel at all like the underdog. He has an amazing voice. He chose “II Mondo Era Vuoto” from the Light in the Piazza. Liz Callaway, his coach, was blown away and was curious to see if understood what he was singing, as the entire song is in Italian. Turns out that he speaks Italian. Wow. He caught my eye last week and I couldn’t remember his name, but he’s definitely on top of my list. He’s super talented.
Choreography time was hilarious and sad all at the same time. Many don’t have technical dance experience. Choreographer Kiesha Lalama was having a time with some of the kids. Without technical dance training AND trying to keep a bunch of teenagers focused was difficult. Definitely not a job I’d have wanted to take on. At one point I thought Kiesha’s head might explode.
Another thing was that many of the kids weren’t used to furious pacing and were overwhelmed. There were even tears from one of the girls, Hanna. But Kiesha did let her take a moment, which I thought was very kind of her. Josh from Florida said “My very first impression of Kiesha was ‘This is gonna be a long rehearsal. I’d heard rumors.’” A funny, but true observation. Kiesha is only a glimpse into what these kids will face on a regular basis if they chose to pursue theatre as a career, so it was something that I think was eye opening for a lot of the kids.
Seeing the kids go to dinner at Sardi’s was pretty amazing. I remember going there, even as an adult, and being so excited to be there. Seeing them get the chance to dress up and have a little fun and take pictures was great.
The final day was their last preparations before the judges’ showcase, which is when the judges pick their top 16. There were several standouts that I feel like we might be seeing more from. Alli from Connecticut sang “The Life of the Party” from Wild Party and while she didn’t get much camera time, I didn’t think she needed it. She was so amazing that I remembered her name, her face, and her song without any trouble. She shines. Elizabeth from California really caught my eye in this episode as well. She reminds me a little bit of Sutton Foster. Anyone else agree with me? She just seems to shine when she’s onstage and it somewhat unassuming when she’s not on stage. I love that quality. Evan made a point to sing a character piece, which helps him shine and his coach, Michael McElroy really helped him focus and slip into his character so he would stand out and make an impression.
Honestly, from the amount of camera time that Evan got, I have my suspicions on who wins this whole thing. I could go look at the website, but I don’t want to spoil it for myself. Call me crazy, but I’ll wait to watch it on TV. I look forward to watching the last episode next week.
You can watch Broadway or Bust on PBS, Sunday night at 8/7 CST and you can watch the previously aired episodes on their website.