Unveiling musicals public never saw
If you’ve never heard of lavish musicals like “The Bathrooms Are Coming” or “Diesel Dazzle,” you’re not alone. Yet, these elaborate productions have borrowed the talents of some of Broadway’s biggest names.
Tony-winning director Susan Stroman admits she “cut her teeth” on what was known as the industrial musical — extravagant productions the general public never got to see. Instead, they were meant for corporations to show to clients, dealers and investors.
Now, a new documentary called “Bathtubs Over Broadway” allows audiences into this secret world. Stroman, along with the film’s writer, director and some of its actors peeled back the curtain at the film’s world premiere at the April Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
“A lot of corporations would hire us to sing and dance about the product. And, in fact, that’s how I really got started choreographing and directing,” Stroman said. Broadway legends Bob Fosse, Chita Rivera and Sheldon Harnick also loaned their talents before making it big. And songwriting duo John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote a musical for General Electric called “Go Fly a Kite” before tackling shows like “Chicago” and “Cabaret.”
The documentary was the brainchild of former “Late Show with David Letterman” writer Steve Young, who began collecting souvenir recordings after learning about these special productions.
“It follows Steve on a journey where he meets all the people that made these corporate musicals that no one had ever heard of. It was a secret world,” director Dava Whisenant said.
Young said he was happy to “drag these shows from the abyss” to let people know about these amazing productions.
“It’s going to be a taste of a hidden art form that was a huge part of American entertainment and culture that the public was completely unaware of because it was private, behind closed doors for company meetings,” Young said. “Bathtubs over Broadway” is rated PG-13 and playing at the Brattle Theatre.