Zionsville’s Olivia Broadwater on Stepping Outside Her Comfort Zone
Zionsville Monthly caught up with 2021 Zionsville Community High School graduate Olivia Broadwater on what she’s been doing since gracing the stage at ZCHS. We last featured Broadwater and her fellow cast members on our October 2019 cover, which promoted ZCHS’ production of Disney’s “Newsies!”
Broadwater played opposite of her friend Hayden Elefante in the lead roles of Katherine Plumber and Jack Kelly. Both gave riveting performances and exuded high levels of talent and professionalism for their young ages. Even then, Broadwater expressed interest in continuing her studies in theater while attending Ball State University, as well as further developing her talents.
So, we sat down with Broadwater to hear about her successes since her senior year at ZCHS and how she is stepping out of her “comfort zone” with current projects that include performing in Civic Theatre’s upcoming production of “Rent.”
Shining Her Light on and off Stage
Broadwater is earning her BFA in musical theater with a minor in Spanish and telecommunications. She performed in her first ballet this past semester and says you will “rarely find her not doing something.”
In addition to her passion for performing, Broadwater is civic minded and advocates for music therapy for people fighting Alzheimer’s disease through her platform “Singing for Smiles.” It is an initiative that Broadwater introduced and advocated for during her time competing at the Miss Indiana’s Outstanding Teen and Miss Indiana programs, at which she won the titles Miss Indiana’s Outstanding Teen first runner-up in 2019, Miss Indiana second runner-up in 2021 and Miss Indiana first runner-up in 2022.
“I think music is one of the best ways to connect with people,” Broadwater stated. “It [Singing for Smiles] advocates music therapy for those with Alzheimer’s, and one of my goals in life is to continue ‘Singing for Smiles’ and develop it into a bigger entity or nonprofit in the future. I would like to use the arts not only as a performer but use it for my cause of [fighting] Alzheimer’s. I hope that one day I don’t have a platform because there will be a cure. I would love to be able to use music as a source of connecting people as well.”
This summer, Broadwater has returned to her theatrical roots and is interning for Civic Theatre’s Young Artists Program.
“I was part of YAP and saw from an early age how amazing not only the production quality of their shows is, but the people over there are just so genuine and you can tell that they love what they do, and they love sharing that with the younger generations,” Broadwater shared. “That’s what drew me to being an intern there.”
Her positive experiences at Civic also led her to audition for the organization’s production of “Rent” that will be opening and running Oct. 7-22, 2022. Visit civictheatre.org for more information.
Challenging Roles Lead to Growth as an Artist
Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “Rent” has become a pop cultural phenomenon with songs that rock and a story that resonates with audiences of all ages.
Based loosely on Puccini’s “La Boheme,” Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. How these young bohemians negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts provides the narrative thread to this groundbreaking musical.
Broadwater has been cast in the role of Maureen Johnson, who is a performance artist. She is popular among the crowd and hosts protests, one of which is to stop the homeless from being evicted and mistreated. Maureen is quite flirtatious, leading to complications in her relationships; she can be bossy at times too. However, despite this, she is generally a good person and is there for her friends in times of need.
Broadwater admitted to being self-conscious about auditioning for this role, which she had literally no time to prepare for before auditioning, as she was wrapping up the Miss Indiana pageant when her mother convinced her to take a risk and go for it.
“I definitely let my fear step in, and I was so nervous on the day of the audition,” Broadwater recalled. “My mom said that it was all part of my career, and I was doing what I’ve said I needed to do — go out of my comfort zone. So, I went, and it was one of the most fun auditions I’ve been to.”
On playing the role of Maureen, Broadwater said, “This [role] is something that is going to push me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. That is one of the best opportunities to be able to grow as an artist — to not be comfortable and to be more ‘edgy.’ To have those experiences that you’ve never done before is so exciting. I love ‘Rent’—it’s such a beautiful story with beautiful music. And to be able to work with a team of people that I call mentors and friends now is just amazing.”
Broadwater is extremely appreciative of the ongoing support the Zionsville and local area arts community continues to bestow on her.
“I’m so grateful for this community,” Broadwater expressed. “This community not only values the arts, but it also values empowering the youth and the arts. I am so grateful to have people see the value in what I am doing and who want me to reach my goals.”