Broadway and Beyond TV highlights importance of the arts
Theater can be a life-changing experience. It’s a message that producer Catherine Schreiber embraces with every fiber of her being. As someone who has been nominated for several Tony and Olivier Awards (nabbing two of the former [2018 revival of Angels in America and 2012’s Clybourne Park] and one of the latter [2019 Company revival), Schreiber is someone whose passion for the arts has not only earned her success but given her immense fulfillment.
Given what theater has meant to her, the Great Neck native is intent on sharing her belief that the arts can not only change lives, but save them, via her latest project, Broadway and Beyond TV. This eight-episode show finds the Great Neck native interviewing a wide swath of folks from the Great White Way. The seeds for the show were planted when Schreiber was being interviewed for a show on Reach TV, a platform found in more than 90 airports throughout North America, Canada and the UK.
“Broadway & Beyond TV happened because I was introduced to Lynnwood Bibbens at Reach TV when they were going to interview me as a producer,” Schreiber recalled. “Reach TV is this incredible platform. What they realized is that at airports specifically, there are CNN televisions only dedicated to news and DirectTV airing long-term programming. People don’t always want to listen to news before they get on a flight or don’t always have time to watch a whole show. So they introduced five, seven or 10 minutes of programming that might be interesting to people. I looked at all the things they have in their programming and they covered sports, Hollywood, movies and everything else, but they didn’t have theater. I said they should have a program about theater and they agreed. I told them they should let me create that and they said to go ahead.”
Given her experience and contacts as an award-winning theatrical producer and as an actress made Schreiber a perfect host for this program. The first episode was shot in December 2019 and found her going behind the scenes of The Cher Show with producer Flody Suarez and doing the same with The Play That Goes Wrong and actresses Bianca Horn and Ashley Reyes. When the pandemic hit, Schreiber switched gears and started conducting Zoom interviews.
Among the subjects she’s connected with are actor/activist Brandon Victor Dixon (The Scottsboro Boys), playwright Rick Elice (Jersey Boys; Addams Family Musical) and actor Harry Haden-Paton (The King’s Speech; Downton Abbey). Throughout, she’s maintained a passionate message about the importance of the arts.
“You hear from so many actors who talk about how they didn’t find a place for themselves in school and theater changed their lives and literally saved their lives,” she explained. “I want to show that to people out there—kids who haven’t found a place for themselves—theater can be that place. I believe drama should be in every school. Those kids who haven’t found a place or an outlet to be part of a community—to learn leadership skills, to have a home, where they might not have a home in their family home. This sounds stupid, but I believe there would be less mass shootings in schools if we would be able to connect with all those kids that are basically alone. People go crazy and lash out when they’re feeling alone. I think [theater] brings kids together. ”
Pandemic notwithstanding, Schreiber is plowing ahead into 2021 with great relish. In addition to plotting out a second season of Broadway and Beyond TV, she is working on a documentary about Josephine Buchan, an English woman who has worked with at-risk students who has been recognized with a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her “Services to Young People In the Arts.”
“Josephine Buchan is this incredible woman who has saved lives in Kent County by bringing theatre into the schools and the name of the film is Kent Rising,” Schreiber said. “She took these kids that were termed as overlooked—they weren’t in the system and didn’t fit in. They were leading a life of drugs and the teachers said to give up on them. She directed Les Misérables and she took this one kid, who again, was out of school more than he was in. Out of his voice came this voice of God and now he’s involved with Italian opera and he’s been on Britain’s Got Talent. She saved his life. Like the arts, what she is doing is really exciting, wonderful and meaningful to me.”