BWW Interview: Will You Accept This Rose On Stage? Former Bachelorette Becca Kufrin Dishes on Her Role as BACHELOR LIVE Co-Host
Bachelor Nation fans of Chicago can experience all the drama of the popular reality show this March when THE BACHELOR LIVE ON STAGE arrives at Broadway In Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre. In advance of BACHELOR LIVE's arrival here, I chatted with former Bachelorette Becca Kufrin, who is co-hosting alongside former Bachelor Ben Higgins. Kufrin shared a preview of what audiences can expect from the show, as well as some behind-the-scenes information from her time on the show (of course, I had to ask about some BACHELOR filming secrets), and her thoughts on the current season.
What can audiences expect from THE BACHELOR LIVE ON STAGE?
They can really expect a little bit of everything. Much like the actual show, there's going to be drama. There's going to be awkward moments. There's hopefully going to be a little bit of connection between the Bachelor and the girls. We've also included the iconic moments you see on the show, from group dates to rose ceremonies to hometowns to fantasy suites. All the moments you see in the show will be part of the live stage experience.
What made you decide to take on this opportunity to host BACHELOR LIVE? What
keeps you continually connected to Bachelor Nation?
ABC had announced the show a few months prior to bringing me on. So they had announced it and had announced that Ben [Higgins, a former Bachelor] was going to be hosting it. At that point, me and the majority had no idea what this entailed...and then the [ABC team] called me a few months later and pitched me. My first question was, "Are these people expected to get engaged after 2 hours?" They assured me, "No way, this is going to be more fun, and we hope one of our local Bachelors finds a connection." I met with the director, who is one of the most creative people I've met in my life, and I thought, "There's no way that I could say no to this." The fact that this is the very first tour they've ever put on, there's no way I could turn that down...That's what got me going, and the more I talked to Ben about it, and we worked through rehearsal and everything, the more excited I got. I thought, "Holy crap, this could work, and this could be a great show."
What has it been like preparing to have your turn as CHRIS HARRISON [THE BACHELOR host] alongside Ben? And has Chris given you any advice leading into this?
I think for most people unless you actually see the show and see what goes down on the live stage, it's hard to comprehend. So Chris said to me, "I can't wait to see it. What does this entail?" We're hoping to get him to the LA show. Watching Chris throughout the seasons, obviously he's a rockstar and an icon for the show. We really tried to channel him. And if you come to the show you'll see Ben does an amazing job doing the one-liners...We wanted to make the audience feel like they're part of THE BACHELOR and BACHELORETTE, watching a season go down in condensed version. We wanted to pull bits and pieces of what the show is into our own stage show.
What is it like now watching new seasons of the show, given your experience on THE BACHELOR and then as the Bachelorette?
You know, I get that question a lot. What I've realized since coming out of the show and being the lead, all of our experiences are so completely different. My season was so different than Colton [Underwood's] season. I remember sitting down with Colton and talking about the details and the little things. I spoke with Peter [Weber, the current Bachelor] at the beginning of this season, and I told him, "I don't want to know what happens. I just want to know you're happy."
Each season is different. There's different team members, and because of the different casts, it's different drama. We see this season there's full-on drama, and my season was more low-key drama. The thing that really helped me, and that I've tried to always keep in mind after my season, is that there's so much that goes down that we don't see. I think as a viewer it's easy to judge certain things or pick apart certain things and critique them. There's so much that goes down and the [producers] try to condense it down into a two-hour storyline every week. Now, I try to have a little more grace for everyone that goes on [the show] and what they're dealing with.
What are your thoughts on Peter's season now that we've just emerged from the Fantasy Suite week episode?
I talked at length about Peter's season on the BACHELOR HAPPY HOUR podcast [Kufrin co-hosts with fellow former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay]. I think, at the end of the day, Peter was dealt a hard hand this season...I really think he has a big heart, and I hope regardless of the outcome he's still happy. I'd love to have him find a partner to share life with, because it makes life more exciting and fun. I'm kind of ready for him to be done and take a break and get back to the real world...If he is in a relationship, I hope he can focus on that at this point. I hope people can give him time and space after all is said and done.
I would argue that THE BACHELOR is still one of the pieces of popular culture that falls into the "water cooler" category, as so many people watch. In a media landscape that's so fragmented, what do you think it is that keeps drawing people to the show?
I think the show itself does so well because it incorporates so many different elements. I mean, I watched the show probably starting in college on and off. I think you get hooked with the contestants. You find someone you want to love or hate each season, someone you cringe at or want to root for, whether it's on the next season or spin-offs like [BACHELOR IN] PARADISE. You have the drama, you have the love story, [and] you have the amazing travel. You have all these amazing storylines weaving into one. At the end of the day, as cheesy as this sounds, people love love stories and Bachelor Nation truly wants to root for somebody and have people find their love stories. At the root of the show is [the goal] to find connection and partnerships.
What advice would you give to the participants in BACHELOR LIVE?
Oh, man. Ben and I meet with both the local Bachelor and the ten ladies every night before the show. The main thing is to just have fun and go with the flow of course. There's gonna be nerves. No one has done this before. No one has been onstage in front of thousands of people in their hometown trying to date someone. If you can really just make the most of it and walk offstage thinking that was worth it, that's really what we want to drive home when we chat with the girls.
I think one thing I didn't think about prior to starting this, but that's been special to see [is the bond between the contestants in each city]. Each night, the girls just seem to have a special bond, and this is the first time they all meet. They spend time backstage getting ready together. We've seen eight shows now, and we've seen a lot of friendships being formed. It's not just between the Bachelor and the girls, but between the girls as well.
On that note, how were the contestants chosen for BACHELOR LIVE?
There's a whole casting team. There's an amazing group of people here that will go through the different nominations and applications. That's all done online. People can apply themselves or nominate friends. It's quite rigorous. The team goes through videos, background checks, and written applications. I also have access to that so I can go through myself and select my top picks. It's kind of a mix. And then we just pull the girls each week...and usually the Bachelor is chosen ahead of time, and they've already been announcing most of them. It's been a fun process so far. We've seen the whole gamut of every type of person out there.
And, lastly, something I've always been curious about: I know that contestants aren't allowed books, TV, or internet access in the BACHELOR mansion. But what about on transatlantic flights, such as when you flew to Thailand on your season ? Do producers let contestants read books, watch movies, or have access to other kinds of entertainment during those international flights?
I mean, we do have books. It's totally fine. When you're living in the mansion, you don't have a TV. But once you start to fly on the flights, you can watch the movies and TV shows on the flights. It's different when you're a contestant on the show, one of many. But when I was the lead, I had access to TV. I didn't have my phone, but I was able to call my mom once a week or once every two weeks to check in.
They really want you to be away from all the distractions and to not read the news. Because if you're reading about what's going on in the mansion when you're living there, it gets wonky and confusing. When I was the lead, I had access to almost anything, minus the phone and the internet. I enjoyed taking a little break from everything. You're so tired that when you have your downtime or travel time you just need to sleep.
See Becca Kufrin host THE BACHELOR LIVE ON STAGE on Saturday, March 14 at 3pm or 8pm (limited seats remain for the evening performance) at Broadway In Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph. Tickets are $25-$80. Visit BroadwayInChicago.com or call 800.775.2000.
Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Photos courtesy of Margie Korshak, Inc.
Interview by Rachel Weinberg