From the 1950s to the 1980s U.S. corporations commissioned a vast array of lavish, Broadway-style musical shows that were only for the eyes and ears of employees.
These improbable productions were meant to educate and motivate the sales force to sell cars, appliances, tractors, soda, and a thousand other products.
Though most of these shows were lost to the universe, some were recorded and distributed to convention attendees via souvenir vinyl records.
This according to Everything’s coming up profits: The golden age of the industrial musical by Steve Young and Sport Murphy (New York: Blast, 2013). Above, the cover of the souvenir album from American Standard’s 1969 musical The bathrooms are coming! (click to enlarge). Below, an excerpt from General Electric’s 1973 show Got to investigate silicones.
You can listen to more songs from industrial musicals here.
The earliest known secular stage play with music, Adam de la Halle’s Le jeu de Robin et de Marion, has been touted as the first musical comedy.
Of the two extant sources, the Paris version is by far the rowdier one—three characters that do not appear in the Aix version engage in mooning the audience, playing with sheep dung, and speaking in unimaginable metaphors worthy of Hungarians.
Common to both versions, Robin, Marion, and the seducing knight are more stock characters, but their lines are pithy and suggestive—e.g., from the scene depicted above:
Knight: You surely won’t put up a fight—you’re just a peasant, I’m a knight!
Marion: Money can’t buy love, you know.
Knight: It can buy something like it, though.
This according to “The hows and whys of Adam de la Halle’s Robin & Marion” by Lucy E. Cross (Early music America XVII/1 [Spring 2011] pp. 38–42). Below, a complete family-friendly performance of the work.
Theaterencyclopedie, a free online resource published in 2012 by the Theater Instituut Nederland, includes a complete database of all theatrical performances in the Netherlands since 1900, along with hundreds of biographies of singers, actors, and directors.
Audio and video clips are also included. Musical productions—opera, cabaret, and musical theater—are well represented.