The Roadshow

My good friend Braden Bell’s book was just released. He insisted that it’s a must read, so what could I do? I read it.

I’ll tell you right now, I’m not a big LDS fiction buff. I prefer books where people drink blood and turn into supernatural beings, or at least live on a foreign planet that has dragons.

But as a past theatrical nerd who at one time planned to take Broadway by storm, the very title of Braden’s book, The Roadshow, intrigued me. Roadshows are my secret passion. I haven’t been in a ward that did a roadshow since I was seven, and I consider this the greatest tragedy of my life to date. Roadshows are very short theatrical productions produced on a limited budget and performed in front of a lot of disinterested people who are mostly there for the food. Awesome, I know.

Braden’s book is wonderful. I decided that I’d ask him a few questions about how it came to be, things I wondered while reading it. If you’re looking for some good LDS fiction for Father’s Day (depending on whether or not your husband can read), or just want an inspiring, uplifting story, get yourself a copy. I was totally impressed with Braden’s ability to tap into characters, and I don’t think I put the book down until I finished it. And yes, my children were slightly stinky by the time I was done.

Me: Have you ever been in a roadshow or written the script?

Braden: Yes.  I was in road shows when I was a young man in Utah.  That was back when they were still big.  Then, about seven years ago, I was called to direct one.  It was in a smallish ward in Nashville and there were very few youth–so almost everyone in the cast were adults.  I believe the theme was about pioneers.  I was pretty low in my theatrical career at the time.  I’d directed a play a few years earlier that had been a HUGE flop and my confidence was shot.  The road show experience turned out very well and helped me get my confidence back, which is good since I make my living directing plays. The idea for this book occurred to me during that experience–but, and I want to emphasize this, the characters are fictional.  There was an elder’s quorum president in the road show but he was a loving, saintly man.  And the leading lady did not have depression.  And so on.  But while we were on the steps to the stage waiting for our turn, I started thinking, “Hey, what if….”

Me: One of your characters, Stephanie, is a washed up BYU music major who took the road more traveled and now sits at home with her children all day, miserable. As a guy, how in the heck did you come to understand how a young mother like this might feel?

Braden: That’s a good question.  First of all, I have struggled with depression myself.  I think it’s important to talk about that because it is a problem a lot of good people deal with.  So, I drew on things from my own experience when writing about her depression. As far as the challenges of being at home with kids, I guess that is drawn from watching my wife’s experience (and my sisters’, and friends of ours).  My background is in theatre and the whole point of a lot of acting training is to learn how to empathize with and portray someone’s experience and emotions, even if you haven’t had that experience yourself. There’s one other thing here.  I haven’t had the exact same experience as Stephanie.  But, I have had the experience of having to sacrifice things I wanted to do, put my dreams on hold, and so on.  I think anyone who tries to walk the road of a disciple is going to have experience with those things.  Certainly any parent, father or mother, will have had those times in their lives.

Me: One of the big themes in the book is pornography. As a former bishop, what do you think has been the most healing thing for families and individuals dealing with this?

Braden: I’m glad you asked that.  This is a vexing and growing problem.  I think there are a lot of causes and everyone is probably unique.  I want to emphasize that my experience is ecclesiastical not professional.  But, in my experience, I found that coming to Christ in a raw, honest encounter of the soul, with no rationalization or justification was painful but necessary.  Once that happened, I saw redeeming grace flow into people’s lives, and other things such as professional counseling could augment and enhance that.  But (again, this is just my experience) that was the foundation.  Without it, counseling didn’t seem to work for people.  I’m NOT criticizing professional help.  It’s an important component.  But I think most counselors agree that a desire to change is required for counseling to be effective–and true repentance helps generate repentance.   Understand that this is a quick answer to a complicated subject.  I am not just saying that someone can fast a few times and be done with this.  But I do know and have seen, that there is tremendous healing power available through the Atonement–and I don’t think we draw on it.  That is true both for the individual battling it as well as his or her family (and it is a growing problem for women, especially young women).

Well folks, there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. I’m a huge fan of Braden’s work, and I think his book is amazing. He takes topics that many Christian authors would probably shy away from and mixes them all together in one wonderful story. Get your copy today, you’ll be glad you did.


  1. Thank you, Annie! And I’m sorry you have been in the road show wilderness for a while now.

  2. P.S. Sorry about Broadway. Didn’t work for me either. Maybe one day we can start a not-quite-Broadway dinner theatre in Davis County somewhere–featuring plays performed by mommies and daddies who’s went for an extended run on less glamorous, but more important stages! 🙂

  3. I’m glad you thought to ask questions. I love it, you asked some good ones, and Braden’s answered them wonderfully!

    p.s. I also wanted to be on Broadway someday. Oh well
    Maybe we could all write our own production and star in it ourselves. Maybe if we have food, people will come watch.

  4. I love that you interviewed him. I always love to hear from the author and why they did what they did.

  5. Great review, and I really loved the questions you asked. Also, the answers. 🙂

    And hey! I’m in the onceuponatime was going to take Broadway by storm or at least off Broadway club, too! Then I changed it to the Met. And I still didn’t make it!

  6. I’ve seen this Braden feller on some people’s comments lately.
    I will have to try and find this book —I may have to wait till my next trip to Utah. BUT, hey, maybe I’ll find it at Chapters (which is like Barnes and Nobles) in the big city up here .
    and —–yes I am going to brag an eensy weesy moment —but I was asked to direct and write a road show in my ward several years ago AND WE ROCKED. we took every award out there. I was thrilled…..but don’t laugh, as I was writing it, I really felt the “spirit” guiding me along and without that, I think I would NOT have been able to do it.
    I know, even gentiles like me feel the “spirit” sometimes.

    and I agree with your post below…..some things can’t be fixed ——–THEY’LL FIX THEMSELVES at the right time. which is definetly NOT on our time frame it seems. My daughters little girl (3) is a DOLL but wow, is she a handful. I think my daughter wants to string her up sometimes.

    and I am still crying over not being able to attend the CBC. Maybe next time.

  7. I have never been in a roadshow. So I think you and I should just start one. You can write the script and I’ll throw together some costumes. And then we can bribe all of our friends to be in it. I’m thinking you have more friends though, so you’ll do most of the bribing. And then you can star in it and I can stand on a table in the back of the auditorium with a big spotlight. That way, whenever someone in the audience stands up to leave, a huge shadow will go over the stage- and it will also temporarily blind the standing audience member. It could be a really good way to get people to stay interested in the performance.

  8. Awesome interview!! I am reading this right now, (and Braden is my cousin- yes, I’m proud:) ) so it was so great to read his answers here. I had wondered some of the same things! I am loving the book. Braden’s writing is superb.

  9. I am not a huge fan of LDS fiction either. Give me a vampire anyday! But this one does sound interesting. Roadshows and porn? Sounds nothing like the roadshow in my ward growin up!

  10. Sounds like a great book! Very intriguing!