Bathtubs Over Broadway at Brattle Theatre
Theatrical Premiere Run!
Friday, December 7 – Thursday, December 13
(2018) dir Dava Whisenant w/Steve Young, Jello Biafra, Martin Short, Chita Rivera, Susan Stroman, Florence Henderson, David Letterman [87 min; DCP]
A lighthearted yet surprisingly multi-layered documentary that chronicles one man’s immersion into the world of industrial musicals. That man is former Late Show with David Letterman writer Steve Young, who discovered the strange, hidden world of Broadway-style musicals written about car sales, beer distribution, fast food management, bathroom fixtures, and more while working on a comedy bit. These shows were never meant for exposure to the general public – living their brief lives at conventions – but, thanks to souvenir recordings, they have gained a cult status among record collectors. These were not hack jobs; they were often written, directed, choreographed, and performed by real Broadway professionals. The tunes are catchy (if often unintentionally hilarious) and some of the shows achieve a true, bizarre kind of brilliance in their ability to make the mundane spectacular.
As the movie unfolds, Steve tracks down the people responsible for these productions as well as the collectors who love them, befriending many of them in the process. The filming also coincides with Letterman’s retirement and Steve finding himself on the job hunt after a lengthy career. At this point, the documentary becomes a story of self- as well as artistic discovery ending with a heartfelt message about taking chances in life. There’s even a fun cameo from one of our favorite places in the film! Staff Pick: Alissa