Bathtubs Over Broadway

Bathtubs Over Broadway was released on Netflix UK on the 2nd January 2021 and anything with Broadway in the title I need to check out so I dived into the Bathtub.

Bathtubs over Broadway tells of Steve Young, a comedy writer for David Letterman, who has discovered the world of industrial musicals. These are musicals which were created for companies and performed for their staff only. The obsession started when he was scouring for records for the comedy record segment on the Letterman show and he came across an vinyl from an industrial show, marked ‘for commercial use only.’ From there the obsession grew and Young tracked down performers and composers from these shows and uses this film, as well as his previously published book to tell the world about these shows.

The concept of Bathtubs Over Broadway is a fascinating one. I was excited to discover that there was a whole new sub-genre of musicals that I knew nothing about. I enjoyed seeing how Young geeked out over some of the performers and composers and it reminded me of my own fandom with current shows. A highlight of the film was therefore seeing some of the familiar names from Broadway musicals such as Chita Rivera and Susan Stroman and discovering that they were also involved in industrial musicals as well a titbits of information that linked these shows to Broadway. For example I was shocked to discover the budgets for these shows dwarf those for the Broadway shows of the time.

Through Bathtubs Over Broadway you discover how the likes of Ford, Wallmart and many more ensured careers for hundreds of singers and dancers. Most of these performers and creatives assume that their work has been long forgotten so the joy that Young finds from these recordings are wonderful. He treats them with such respect and has such awe for those that were involved, it is touching to see both their reaction to his admiration and Young’s glee when he speaks to them. Add to this the ability to turn mundane subjects into all singing and all dancing shows then you find a touching vibe at the core of this movie.

Whilst the film isn’t fast paced or earth shattering it is heart warming and intriguing and provides wonderful nuggets of information that even the biggest musical theatre fan will be unaware of.

If you like this review you might also like my quiz on movie musicals, my review of The Greatest Showman Movie and my book review on 20 Theatres to See Before You Die.

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