This Netflix Documentary Takes You Inside the World of Secret Musicals About Toilets, Cars and Dog Food
"Life can be so rich and wonderful when we step off the logical path and embark on eccentric adventures."
For a sentiment that sounds like it belongs in a fortune cookie, you'd never expect that Steve Young is actually referencing a subset of offbeat, secret musicals: Shows about toilets and tractors and dog food and cars. Shows with big names, like Bob Fosse attached, and even bigger Broadway-style budgets. Shows that were never seen by the public.
These musicals are the subject of Bathtubs Over Broadway, the Tribeca Film Festival–winning documentary that begins streaming on Netflix today.
Welcome to the world of industrial musicals. If you haven't heard of them, that's on purpose. Back in the 1960s, many companies produced elaborate musicals to be presented exclusively at sales meetings to get employees jazzed about their products.
Hundreds of shows were made, and, thankfully, some traces still remain—mostly in the form of LPs given to employees as souvenirs. In the '90s, Young started finding records of these mysterious shows, like The Bathrooms are Coming!, and he was understandably intrigued. Over the years, his interest grew into an obsession, which eventually birthed the Bathtubs Over Broadway documentary.
Screenshot of Bathtubs Over Broadway
Though shows made to pep up employees might sound corny, industrials had high production value and attracted top talent: performers like Chita Rivera and Martin Short, and directors like Fosse and Susan Stroman. (Laugh all you want, but Skittles echoed this strategy with its 2019 Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical, starring Michael C. Hall.)
What's more, these musicals were a boon for actors and dancers because corporate behemoths could afford to cut hefty paychecks. An article in The New Yorker even mentions that, according to Stroman, "an actor could make a year's living doing four industrial shows."
Curious yet? Queue up Bathtubs Over Broadway. But don't blame us if you can't stop singing about toilets all weekend long.
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: