Un­veil­ing mu­si­cals pub­lic never saw

Boston Herald - - MOVIES -

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.

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