Bernard Gabriel; 39; Music and Industrial Shows Buff Schurr
This is Bernard Gabriel news about most of the music of our time is hardly kept a dark secret. The media fairly hurl advertisements and reviews and comment about what's going on and where and just how much it costs to hear it. Any reader of the music or theatrical pages in a Sunday edition of The New York Times can hardly be blind to what's in store in the way of concerts and opera here abouts other pages and other papers tell of musical doings in the church and what's to come over it. AM and FM radio and television. The film world isn't exactly reticent nor are the reporting companies be it severely classical or the most in kind of rock. We're not left as I say in the dark as to what may be in the offing. But oddly enough there are certain aspects of our music scene which are significant I think which involve persons of ability and high of musical talent and which often involve huge quantities of money but which received virtually no publicity at all and of which large segments of the
public may be entirely unaware. What in the world could I possibly be thinking of. One such adventure is what is known as musical industrials and I have invited a man who knows all about this important spoke in the wheel of today's music. You join me in the microphone and to spread some enlightenment he is sure. And we're going to find a lot more about Mr. very shortly. But sure in case anyone listening is is as ignorant as I am admittedly about industrial shows their purpose their cost their nature. Tell me what really is an industrial show. Well I tell you you mention a musical industrial show. That's only one kind of an industrial show there are business meetings and there are not musical industrial shows. But for the most part I think it is a show for industry to instill enthusiasm or to demonstrate
a new product. Sometimes it could it can be a glorified commercial in a way can run for an hour an hour and a half. But for the most part it is within the confines of the industry meaning for distributors for salesmen sometimes for patrons and clients. As the old automobile shows used to be like automobile could you could they wouldn't hold pep shows pep shows at maybe a PEP show. I I I. They do many Pepsi shot I mean are shot in the arm yes but. I think maybe that's demeaning when they spend an awful lot of money they don't want to call them pep show me what I call it that. Oh yeah I guess some of them could be called the arms of course because for instance I'm doing a show now which is really it's for Miller Miller Brewing Company. It has been taken Miller Brewing has been taken over by Philip Mars now a big Philip Markoff excuse me and it is really kind of a go go go show for the Miller Beer people saying hey we've got the best beer this year we're going to sell
more. We've got this and we've got this and we've got this and fellows go. So pep showed to me. All right that's a pet shop. All right many of them are not that shows you that this one happens to be that kind of show. What would be a one be like that wasn't a dramatic show that demonstrates possibly a new product. You know I want to help show now it's a way educational educational for the most part within the industry itself. Right. Ha. Well now Have you any idea as to when these industrial musical shows might have gotten underway first. Well I think the credit within the industrial field goes to a man by the name of Jamison the handy one of the famous producers is still called the Jam Handy Organization. They're out of Detroit but they also have offices of course here in New York. He started these things I think soon after World War 2 although that recent right. Well they may have you know they may have done something for industry before that but they were not
recognized as quote an art form of some kind. And you know it was soon after World War 2 when they really started I think I got involved of course when I came to New York and I've been involved with them for about 14 years. My first job was 56 or 57 I forget which. And it was for Jam Handy Organization. As no as of now I'm not sure they're the largest in any in the industrial field only because they do a lot of films now which is part of the industrial field by the way. Most of the industrial shows that I do contain film slide projection Vista Strip which is an interesting kind of thing that they have the strip never the slides never stop they just keep going. A lot of technical things a lot of stuff you see on Broadway by the way off-Broadway a lot of the avant garde things that you see multimedia we've been doing for 10 years. You have to have you know as you well apparently then these industrial musical shows began what about a quarter century ago too I think. Yeah I think so. And now could you give a
rough rough estimate as to about how many corporations throughout the country are going in for this type of engine well but we all live ashore most of you audience have heard of the 500 Fortune 500 you know if I have 500 I beat you how right I am I. Oh I the 500 biggest corporations fortune each year you know lists them in and out of the 500 may I say that four hundred ninety nine. Of course they all do. Every one of the order that I could go all the way down the list of the things that all of the of the corporations that I work for General Motors Xerox Chrysler American Motors you name Howard Hughes. What were different except that at the moment nobody don't so I don't know if I want to be Howard Hughes Well or J Paul Getty here is something like that. No but I think J Paul Getty humble oil at Texaco.
Oh you know I could numerable the amount of industrial giants and non giants that do show well then this kind of pep show certainly must do the job and I mean it really must day and enthused the workers and well hyped them. You know they wouldn't do all that I'm sure is money they used to do shows with in their own organization meaning and I mentor kind of show which they would write and produce and they found that it's not nearly as good as a professional industrial show meaning the writers are professional the director the choreographers are there are professional performers certainly are professional the best of Broadway can offer. Sometimes they use big names but for the most part they do not. Because that's not the important thing the important thing is the message that we get across and not the star of the stars usually the car or the stars the television or the stars you know as you know. Well now what's the range. Let's say a small
business corporation. But how many people would be involved in viewing or witnessing these productions. And one of the biggest Like perhaps I presume General Motors or Xerox or one of those also about how many people might be involved in getting the message that I was in I'll give you an I'll give you an example. I just finished in December a chauffer Cessna Cessna is an aircraft company. There are three main companies Cessna Piper and Beech craft. It's located in Wichita Cessna's worldwide. It's an international organization. And so they invited from all over the world. The dealers distributors etc. those people having to do with Cessna. We did it in Wichita at this immense civic thing and I think there must have been maybe twenty five hundred people there. We did it just for one day. We had rehearsed prior to that for three weeks. People from the or the org all of them from all over all over. It wasn't just the show to see.
There was a discussion period there where exhibitions display learning periods of new things coming out. So the show was only a part of the I think three day convention. Yeah. You know now that Matthew the general public wasn't admitted to this you know they were not and wouldn't it be interesting to him as an educational thing to have the general public know more about these what goes on in the new things that are coming along or if it's just to him. Well I think there are some shows that are definitely him. For instance my friends parents relatives I've invited many times to see the shows that play in and around the Washington Baltimore area which is where I come from. And they've enjoyed each and every one. Eastern Airlines because some of them can be are are more vastly entertaining than some of the other so I'm a cut and dried business meetings we put films and slides and we have a couple of actors up there etc.. Some are big Broadway musicals and those of course have to be.
It's like boy meets girl boy loses girl etc. etc. but in between Somehow we may demonstrate a new Cadillac or a new television thing. You know I am absolutely consumed with a flood of questions here. Shoot where and when are most of these shows held. Well where there are there are held all over. It depends on where the corporate structure is where the main business edifice is. Coca-Cola for instance has a big building in Atlanta. They have them in New York. So maybe any one of those it could be any place where the where they are. And then again now especially with transportation the way it is there are industrial shows being done in Japan. Ho y e Holland Switzerland etc etc General Electric RCA. They go
all over Las Vegas of course Florida of course I'm going to Miami in a couple of weeks. The islands Trinidad Jamaica Santa Domingo San Juan what harm do they do them about once a year. The big ones yes but there are some I do a General Motors show a big truck show we do twice a year. There are many that do. One large maybe a smaller one in between of course they do many business meetings which could be called industrial shows although they're really not you know they don't really require entertainment they require maybe a stage manager a projectionist films etc etc. but not really live town and I deal mostly live telly. Since you know I directing choreographing Now let me ask you the silliest question of the week. You are right is much money involved in producing these shows. Well as if I wouldn't know. Well I think the last figure that I read which was a couple of years ago.
If Broadway if the budget of all the shows on Broadway were totaled and let's say the sum came to maybe this year below let's say it's 12 million dollars by the end of this year. I would say that with industrial shows the sum may be closer to one hundred sixty to have. Doesn't surprise me as much as it ought to but I'm a little surprised a lot of people. So at tremendous amount of money goes into these ventures. Yes and I'm not even counting commercials. I mean commercials could be part of Industrials but that's a whole that's others again. We have now how many performers again you probably have a big range are used in a typical industrial show let's take a small corporation and then let's maybe go to the biggest stuff. I'm already well contrast. There were times. In the late 50s and early 60s when Ford and Chevy would almost compete in Detroit for performers
meaning this the show usually came on or would be put on in August because cars usually come out in September or October. Consequently they would want their salesmen distributors dealers to see the new car before it went into the showroom. The hiring of performers would happen in May or June. Prior to that there were times when Chevy had eight companies going on of about oh 15 people each. Multiply that and at the same time maybe Ford had seven companies going at about 12 or 15 each. Detroit in those house the on days of the late 50s and early 60s was look more like Broadway than Broadway could because there were more people performing in Detroit at one time. There was Chevy Ford Plymouth Dodge Chrysler Pontiac all the cars would have shows going on approximately the same time so that there may be there could have been very easily walking the streets of Detroit
400 to 500 performers and people connected with the theater. Whereas on Broadway you don't have that many people playing at once. You really don't know. And how small do they get. When I'm doing a show now it has only three people three people missing and sometimes just one depending what they won. But usually when you have a show you you would like to have a guy and a girl of my own a woman or two into you know that kind of thing so you can get some kind of relationship going on now. But sure I want to find out more about you and your background. Now you mentioned you've been in this field for 14 years and you look at I mean I don't want to estimate your age some of you but I know you well how you did it. Yeah I would say you look about 26. You musta been a child prodigy industrial producer. Well I'm not 26. First of all. Twenty six and a half. No I'll be 34 months so you started it I was very well I did when I came to New York. I came soon after the Right after college and I was
very lucky to get involved immediately. Well first tell me a little about your background. Well I went to I started playing the violin at nine and the guitar at 11 I had my own band at about 13 or 14 I started dancing about the same time I started taking voice and piano about the same time when I was through all through college of course I was doing theater play one play after another one musical after another was I continued to dance and continued to saying and of course when I came to New York I went to the Neighborhood Playhouse which is the finishing school. So you wanted to be on the stage. I want to tell you something. They got her and then how did how did it really happen I mean to get in well even at a loss for even during college I was directing and staging because it it just came easy to me I was able to tell people what to do in a certain way and they liked it so I could do it I was doing a show at a club in New York called of a side which is no law no.
A man was in the audience who saw the show called me over to the table and asked me if I was interested in doing a show I said what. He's a show over Cadillac and I said what. Why as usual I had no idea what you mean I don't know I thought it does. Anyway that was my first show. And from then on one thing led to another. I have done Broadway I've done three Broadway shows have you done a show called What I get to Remember was so terrible. Well anyway I did carnival with Gower Champion I was his assistant and then I redirected the shows the national company and the companies for the tents they called it in Iraq. And anyway we took up this man's offer to do something for Cadillac. Right right and that started the ball rolling and I started well now we haven't even said what you do in regard to industrials. What is your exact position I function primarily now as director and choreographer if possible.
If not then I will either direct or choreograph primarily as a director and then I will get somebody who will who will assist me to to put this thing together. I do both if possible only because that way no seams show how many shows are you able to handle at one time. All at one time I was there no more than 12. No more than two and it's impossible because there's so much I was going to say pressure. I'm able to withstand the pressure. But it's a matter of the client wants to be served. And you must be aware of that. You cannot serve two at once really not not and function properly. So I try to avoid that. I do possibly six or seven a year maybe sometimes not. I've already asked you one foolish question that is was much it money involved you came up with a figure something like a hundred and sixty million dollars. I thought I was a year a year. Yeah to do some of these industrious second foolish question. Is this a hard field to break into. As if I wouldn't know the answer to that.
Do you talk about as a performer. Well as much as any. All right let me say this. The performer that I use personally in that many of my peers in the industrial few of us are performers that could be a star if the brakes lock etc.. They have all the talents necessary. They are much better sometimes and anybody on Broadway meaning the singers and dancers because they have to be able to do it all. Especially since I do sing dance and act. I expect them to do the same thing. That's what you require of the absolutely being able to sing. If a fellow is a tenor he's got to have a robust B-flat and be able to do a double peer Wetton go down to me at the same time. He's got to know what I'm talking about when I talk about a beat or a bit in a scene. The object the object in the scene the AS IF things you know he's got to know what I'm talking about as an actor. He's got to know certainly what I'm talking about when I use my ballet terms which is what we usually use. And he certainly got to be able to sing with no difficulty.
And you find it easy or is that coming from me the word easy. I mean you find it difficult but I mean I ask you that to get people who have these rounded talents that are of coming you know less and less difficult. Because I was like oh yes because every dancer now studies acting and studies singing and I and every down and every singer studies dancing and acting and etc. so that everyone is beginning to realize that in order to work more. You have to study more. You have to be multifaceted multi-talented. Now how would people who are qualified get into the field or audition let's say for you or some of the other pretty well used what I have is that I call agents and I tell the ad to go theatrical which is of course and I tell them that I what I'm looking for I need let's say three girls and three guys they have to be able to sing dance and act. I don't really care what they look like I already know them. No because of oh I guess they for the most part no lean of the hyena no lean of the hyenas but we do use of course the specific
roles that even you can't deny that people are people and beauty is not the most important thing it's talent really guys and when I say guys I mean the guys in the in the audience because most of most of our audiences are made up of men do laughs and pretty girls I mean that's fair. But usually seeing a pretty girl who can't sing or dance is not going to last an hour whereas if they see somebody who's not as pretty but it was terribly talented. My goodness you know what how what kind of music do you use and who's responsible for composing it. Let's see the composers of very many composers were Broadway do shows many conductors that we use have done Broadway shows have conducted your post get it off you know if I know of an area and Yuri has done two or three He's a classical conductor. We know that Saul Shechtman. I'm trying to think of the man who ran the San Francisco who conducted San Francisco Opera who did
the roar of the greasepaint with me I was joining always associate on that show. I'll think of it you know just a few minutes but we have some very very serious people involved. I'm not going to lie and say that he is full of classical so I was really sorry that you ever used any classical ears occasionally yes when we do a serious ballet if we you know or sometimes we do some excerpts from opera. I do anyway because I love it. I like to sing it. I still do I take lessons whenever I can and I love it. So I tried to inject because it can be. You know there's a word that the using I'll schlocky have to avoid that. You really have to avoid the bizarre as in all the slickness and all the schlocky ness that could possibly go on with industrials because you know you feel well we're doing it for the guys out in Des Moines Iowa and they really don't know theater. But that's really that's that's an easy way out. What about so-called Evan garde electronic bit. Do you ever make use of. Oh yes we've been doing
that for years and years and years. Oh yes. Don driver who directed your own thing several years ago which was a big hit and is still playing in the States. I remember him inviting me to see the preview of the show. He had 34 different projects. What do I say carousel projections going the carousel as the Kodak Carousel plus all sorts of film going plus this plus an electronic light strobe light etc. etc.. He had perfected his technique in industrial shows because he wrote several of them directed choreograph several of them. When I was directing I've directed many years in the stock also St. Louis the biggest places and on Also St. Louis Kansas City Dallas. So many are all over the place and we have used this technique for years. So he brought them to Off Broadway and off Broadway has picked them up as if you know they started it but they didn't really.
We've been doing it for a long time. But you're looking at if you will a little and tell me what you see for the next year or two is this an expanding field is it changing any. If you would ask me that question two years ago if we were here then I would have said oh God it's going to be an awful two years and I think it has been lost for as a seven or eight shows. Well I I don't have to tell you that I mean at times session stock market et cetera et cetera. I surely don't live this hypo almost more than ever that well that's the psychology I think they should have taken but they don't they cannot explain the spending of money to their stock good to their stockholders and to the board. So they don't do it but I do see the economy picking up and within the last two or three months it has picked up. I have two three shows going at the same time now we're working on now in a few words that I said in the very beginning I mentioned that industrial shows don't get much publicity and that so many people in
the country don't know that perhaps that anything is tremendous Is this exists at all and I suppose the answer is really pretty evident and that is that it's an inside kind of thing it's not for the general public for the most part that's true. But even so you know there used to be years it was more than it is why do you think it isn't at all. Well I think just for that one primarily for that one reason. If you remember Bernard of years ago there was a show called Motorola which we had our most one of the World Affairs on you know World's Fair on tour. Well that was an industrial show. Let's face it that's a good show General Motors car that is the precursor of the big industrial shows of that show I don't know how much it cost but my goodness you know with the budgets that it must have cost at least 500000 or more to put on. Well now your biggest Broadway show let's say costs $750000. I have done several as large as that maybe what have you. Well you know when you send a show all around the country let's say you're
doing a show for for Cadillac or Chevrolet and you have five companies and you have stagehands and you have the stage managers and you have film when you have travel and you have hotel rooms and you have people to come see. It's got a total sometimes a million dollars that's used to it. There's no way off got to be. Now if you're getting ready a big show and I'm sure you are right now how about Haha much rehearsal can be involved I mean in terms of time. For weeks for weeks for weeks physical rehearsal I'm not talking about pre-production. For instance my next show starts rehearsing January 11 which is next Monday but I have been with my conductor I've been with my composer for the last week and a half two weeks really even before Christmas we have corresponded and talked as to what we're going to do in routine sessions. We have seven musical numbers in the show the show's going to take about two hours along with a coffee break. I have many many queues of lights and sound
and God knows what else. So we have been you know you mentioned that some industrial shows now are going on in various parts of the world aside from the United States like Japan where else that you mention Holland Hawaii a lot of Mahratta Well now these are American shows that have. Has Europe or Asia taken over the idea for their own you know not yet. We're trying to do that. Some of the companies here Jam Handy while doing sci sales communication co-operated are trying to do that. There is a McCann-Erickson in London and they're doing several shows a friend of mine as a matter of fact is the head of the industrial division over there and he's doing shows and they're getting interest and they don't have as much money as we have. They're getting to that point and I think it's in the works. It's in the works you really do it. Oh gosh I so me. Thank you for joining me. I've learned a great deal I must say in these 28 minutes. I want to
thank you as I'm sure everybody listening would for shedding so much light on an important aspect of our music scene. And as I say one that is so often not in the limelight or in the spotlight Well may I say that when I was home last weekend my brother in law said to me what are you doing now. So you'd say that's right. But I'm sure it didn't take long for you to enlighten him and impressive. I don't think he understood it really. Well thanks again and this has been Bernard Gabriel Wishing all a week filled with fine music this program was acquired with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is the national educational radio network.
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- Chicago: “Bernard Gabriel; 39; Music and Industrial Shows Buff Schurr,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-qb9v5g60.
- MLA: “Bernard Gabriel; 39; Music and Industrial Shows Buff Schurr.” 1971-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-qb9v5g60>.
- APA: Bernard Gabriel; 39; Music and Industrial Shows Buff Schurr. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-qb9v5g60