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Shining on Broadway

“It was the chance of a lifetime,” said rising junior Taylor Neal of Cuthbertson High School -- and recent Jay M. Robinson graduate Kyle Conroy agreed.

The two earned a trip to New York City in mid-June to compete for Broadway and college scholarships -- and possible theatrical stardom -- with 60 other high school musical performers from throughout the country in the Jimmy Awards.

A new PBS mini-series about the experience, “Broadway or Bust,” debuts Sept. 9 and will also air the following two Sundays. Taylor performed as Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” during the awards, while Kyle, a self-proclaimed “comedic actor,” was Seymour from “Little Shop of Horrors.”

The weeklong adventure wasn’t all glitz and glamour: It included a kind of boot campm with intense rehearsals and coaching. “The singing, dancing and practicing was up to 13 hours a day,” said Kyle, who’ll attend UNC Chapel Hill this fall.

The show, hosted by Broadway stars Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox, includes surprise visits and cameo appearances by Broadway stars who offer the teens insider perspectives and tips during the competition.

The week culminated with the naming of the best actor and actress in a musical, at an awards event on a Broadway stage in front of a live audience and a panel of high-profile judges.

Kyle’s coach in New York was Telly Leung, who was on “Glee” and in “Godspell” on Broadway; Taylor’s coach was veteran Broadway performer Michael McElroy.

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