HR Strange But True!
October 25, 2007

Sure, you've thought that the trials and tribulations of your HR department would make a good movie--or sitcom. But a musical?

Well, a husband/wife composing team has created a musical, Walmartopia, about the retailer's much-publicized employment issues and brought it to Broadway (actually a little "off" Broadway).

And although a big production number kicked off the premier "Happy Hour" program on the first day of the new Fox Business Network, critics aren't buying the premise of downtrodden--and tap dancing--employees in blue vests--and even a resurrected Sam Walton belting out a tune!

The pro-union musical, billed as "The Show Wal-Mart Doesn't Want You to See," originated at the Fringe Festival in Wisconsin as a social satire where a single mother and her daughter both toil for the company and end up battling their anti-union employer for better benefits.

On Fox, Catherine Capellaro, who wrote the book, said the show deals with the "the reality of today's workplace" and "serious issues of our 'consumer culture.'" Andrew Rohn, who wrote the music and lyrics, said he was inspired by Wal-Mart's "lousy pay and benefits," and quipped that "our aim was to write a big musical that puts all other musicals out of business."

While the plot sounds Norma Rae -ish, the musical, which opens on a Labor Day in New York City, takes an odd turn from reality in Act Two. Then the mother/daughter team is projected to the year 2037, when Wal-Mart dominates the world, not just in retail, but totally, and a mad scientist (shades of Rocky Horror Show) helps the workers es ca pe to the only place in the world where Wal-Mart doesn't rule--Vermont!

The creators did admit to reporter Rebecca Gomez that they hadn't based the work on their own experience because they never worked for the company and never shop there.

Alas, critics wavered on the merit of the show, and its fate is uncertain; ca lled it "irreverent," while The New York Daily News , although complimenting the sets with sky-high shelves of sale items, said it was a "tedious time waster."

You can find more information on the musical at:

TGIF - It's HR
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