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How corporate events can benefit from the golden age of industrial musicals

"The title Diesel Dazzle I love because you get two words, four syllables that kind of sum up the entire genre. You got the heavy industry on the diesel side. And you got the showbiz glamor on the dazzle side. And these two things are slamming together like matter and anti-matter." - Steve Young 

Steve Young is an Emmy nominated writer for the David Letterman show for 25 years, and it was through the show that he became exposed to the world of industrial musicals. He co-wrote a gorgeous book about it called Everything's Coming Up Profits: The Golden Age Of Industrial Musicals, and that book led to Dava Whisenant’s award-winning documentary about those golden age events and his search to uncover them. It's called Bathtubs Over Broadway and you can find it on Netflix and plenty of other places online.

Most people don’t even know there was a golden age of industrial musicals! Corporations would do fully staged book musicals in order to entertain and inform their attendees. While these types of shows are (for the most part) no longer done, there’s still much to be learned from looking at them.

I highly recommend watching Bathtubs Over Broadway (it’s super-fun) and listening to the full episode podcast interview with Steve. but if you want the top 4 takeaways from our talk, here they are:

  1. During the golden age of industrial musicals corporations used a full book musical to make their messaging impactful, and many of the writers and actors who honed their craft on these shows went on to become some of the most successful talent in Broadway history.
  2. The budgets for these shows, in today’s dollars, would be in the tens of millions and some of the shows were quite brave in addressing what the companies were worried about, and what their employees were truly struggling with.
  3. Using elements of musical theatre is a great way to use the emotional power of theatre to get your message across your the attendees.
  4. The artists who created these shows gave 100% of their talent and created truly exceptional work.

Steve is a font of knowledge when it comes to this rare art form. His passion, intelligence, and humor are in every engaging story he tells. 

If you want to hear our full conversation, head to the episode page or listen anywhere fine podcasts are found. 

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