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Posts Tagged ‘musicals’

Album cover for The Bathrooms are Coming!, a 1969 American-Standard musical (Blast Books)

I heard a great Studio360 show today. It was on the industrial musicals once used by corporations to get the sales team charged up to go out and sell.

“In the 1950, 60s, and 70s, a subgenre of musical theater entertained thousands. It had showstoppers composed by some of the brightest talent in the business. But instead of selling out Broadway houses, these shows played to packed hotel ballrooms and convention halls. …

“ ‘It was to build morale and build a sense of being on a team,’ explains Steve Young. ‘You weren’t isolated, you were a part of a greater whole that was looking out for you.’ A writer for David Letterman, Young has made himself the curator of the world’s largest collection of corporate musical theater performances. ‘Sales Training,’ a groovy number from 1972, includes specs for York air conditioner’s new line. ‘Once in a Lifetime’ breathlessly heralds the arrival of the 1958 Ford Edsel.

“Writing these musicals was no simple task and corporations spent lavishly to attract top talent. In 1966, John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote Go Fly a Kite for General Electric (in which Benjamin Franklin meets modern utility executives) — they went on to win a Tony for Cabaret. …

“Steve Young is co-author of the book  Everything’s Coming Up Profits.”

If you like musicals, you really must listen to the whole Studio360 show. It’s too funny.

You don’t want to miss “PDM (Power Distribution Management) Can Do”
from Go Fly a Kite — General Electric, 1966, by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Walter Marks, or “An Exxon Dealer’s Wife.” Be sure to catch the song composed to sell Edsels and the haunting American-Standard number “My Bathroom” from 1969. (“My bathroom, my bathroom is a private kind of place.”)

Studio360’s show,”Curtain Call: Industrial Strength Musicals,” may be found here.

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And speaking of Korea, the culture in the south might as well be on the other side of the world from North Korea.

My husband and I, lifetime fans of Broadway musicals, may sometimes feel concerned that the audiences are mostly old folks like us, but in South Korea, musicals are cool. Young people dig them.

Patrick Healy writes for the NY Times, “The packs of young women arrived 90 minutes early for the evening’s show: Murder Ballad, a rock musical that flopped off Broadway in July and then opened here four months later in an all-Korean production.

“They wanted time to shoot smartphone video of Seoul’s newest theater, built inside a shopping mall, and start scoring autographs: of actors, sure, but lighting operators and makeup artists too.

“Or anyone, really, working on American musicals, whose head-spinning popularity here has changed the game for New York producers looking to extend the lives of their shows.

“Seoul has become a boomtown for American musicals, with Korean and Broadway producers tapping into an audience of young women raised on the bombast of Korean pop and the histrionics of television soap operas.”

Bombast and histrionics? Now, wait just a minute, here! Hmmm. I guess musicals can be bombastic, like opera. But the kind I like are more thoughtful and quirky.

Recent shows we enjoyed were Side Show, which I talked about here, and
Brian Crawley and Andrew Lippa’s take on A Little Princess, a story by the author of the Secret Garden.

Come to think of it, both Side Show and A Little Princess had moments of bombast and histrionics. I guess I don’t notice that anymore.

Photo: Lim Hoon
Korean actors in the Seoul production of
Wicked.

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