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So, which type of cast album listener are you?

Before you see a musical, do you play the show’s recording and learn the score down to every hemidemisemiquaver?

Or do you avoid the album because you want to be taken by surprise and discover the score in the theater?

What about a musical that you’re seeing for the second to the umpteenth time? Do you revisit the recording and re-familiarize yourself with its music and lyrics, or do you prefer to discover how much you’ll remember when the show unfolds in front of you?

This summer, you’ll make your choice as you travel everywhere from your neighborhood to overseas to see musicals. Whichever way you listen in planes, trains or automobiles, you can experience the show’s cast album en route to the theater, or revisit what you’d just heard on your way home.

No question that plenty will be playing from sea (such as FUNNY GIRL at the Maine State Music Theatre, June 26-July 13) to shining sea: GREASE, from July 5-13 in a college production in Ohlone, CA.

One musical that will give you ample summer chances is SPONGEBOB SQUARE PANTS. No fewer than 24 out of our 50 states will offer at least one production between now and Labor Day. Add to that six productions in the United Kingdom and even one in Sao Paolo – a city in Brazil that many will want to fill for this Drama Desk-winning musical.

Although June is the most famous month for couples to tie the knot, The Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts in Warsaw, IN, will keep the romance going into July. From the 4th to the 13th, THE WEDDING SINGER will have you walking down the aisle to your seat. If you listen to the cast album beforehand, you’ll probably be humming the intoxicating “It’s Your Wedding Day” that opens the show.

BYE BYE BIRDIE plays the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theatre this weekend and next. If you only know the film or the soundtrack album, you’ll be surprised to hear five songs that the 1963 movie omitted.

One is “Baby, Talk to Me.” Charles Strouse, BIRDIE’s composer, has said that he thought it would be the show’s Hit Song. That’s why it’s the first real melody heard in the Overture, to let the audience know that this will be The Big One. “Put on a Happy Face” and “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” eclipsed it, but it’s still worth a listen.

Another BIRDIE treat to discover is Rose Alvarez’s eleven-o’clock number. Rose (the much-missed Chita Rivera) shows her Latina pride in “Spanish Rose,” where she vows, “I’ll be more Espanol than Abbe Lane!”

Lane was a mid-20th century movie star in such films as THE AMERICANO, SUSANA Y YO and MARICAIBO. Her hit songs included “Babalu,” “Malaguena Salerosa” and “Pan-Amor E Cha Cha Cha.”

The singer’s real name was Abigail Francine Lassman. So, Rose Alvarez wouldn’t have much trouble being “more Espanol than Abbe Lane.”

Also set for the Eisenhower is NINE (August 2-11), the Best Musical choice of most 1981-82 Tony voters. Playing Guido Contini will be Steven Pasquale, whose very surname reveals that he’ll easily be able to “Be Italian.”

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who dazzled in the 2002 MAN OF LA MANCHA revival, will portray Guido’s Mother, and Carolee Carmello (whose Tony loss for PARADE still rankles many) will play Liliane La Fleur. Hear how they stack up with original casters Taina Elg and Tony-winner Liliane Montevecchi.

Are you well aware that Delaware will be seeing HELLO, DOLLY! from June 21-30? That’s Delaware, OH, by the way. But wherever Jerry Herman’s masterpiece plays, it’s so nice to have it back where it belongs: on stage.

As you travel there, several DOLLY recordings will make the trip go faster. Play the Carol Channing, Mary Martin, Pearl Bailey and Bette Midler versions and see which you like best.

(Ms. Channing, forgive me! My vote goes to Martin.)

The idea of children performing EVITA may seem off-putting, but when French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts is doing it (July 12-14), that’s a very different story. Google to find the dozens of names you now know that got their starts as tweens and teens at this summer camp. So, take a rainbow tour and get to Hancock, NY; in future years, you may have many an I-saw-them-when story.

Don’t turn your nose up at community theater productions, such as the one BAT BOY will receive at the well-regarded North Texas Performing Arts in Fairview, TX (July 25-28). If you only know the title character from the tabloids that portray him as a most threatening savage, you’ll be surprised and glad to meet the endearing creature that will “Show You a Thing or Two.” It’s one of the most delightful list songs in recent musical theater history.

Midwesterners who can’t get to the Hudson Theatre this August, where ONCE UPON A MATTRESS will start a four-month run. may find that they’re closer to Osage, IA (July 11-21). In preparation for either run, read SHY, composer Mary Rodgers’ memoir. Its title comes from the song that Rodgers wrote with Marshall Barer. Listen to Sarah Jessica Parker’s rendition on the revival cast album, and you’ll hear a clever turn of phrase at song’s end.  

Before a product is released to the public, marketing mavens often ask, “But will it play in Peoria?” The Illinois town has become synonymous as a barometer of mainstream middle-of-the-road values. Well, we do know what will play in Peoria from July 12-20: OLIVER!

If you can’t get to the town’s Corn Stock Theatre, you may instead consider yourself at home with Lionel Bart’s landmark musical thanks to its original cast album. Note the term “original cast” and not “original Broadway cast.” It was expected to be such a smash hit that it was recorded during its pre-Broadway tour; by the time it reached the Imperial, teen Michael Goodwin, playing The Artful Dodger, found that his voice had changed, so a change had to be made. Future rock star David Jones took over.

With so many U.S. cities prone to sky-high temperatures, head to Canada; even when the heat is on, it’s never too hot in New Brunswick, where YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN will be done July 10-12 courtesy of the Kennebecassis Valley Players in


(Say it soft, and it’s almost like praying.)

Kennebecassis is doing the new and improved 1999 version that offers more instrumentation than the original as well as two important Andrew Lippa contributions: an additional section to the title tune and “My Personal Philosophy.” Without the latter, Kristin Chenoweth wouldn’t have had as easy a time winning her Tony.

Canada also has another fancifully named theater: The TotoToo in Ottawa. From June 13-22, it will offer A NEW BRAIN, William Finn’s

very personal musical insists that “You’ve got to have heart and music.” If you still have a car with a CD player, here’s betting that when this song comes on, you’ll lunge for the “Repeat” button.

And that, of course, will not be the only song from these aforementioned scores that you’ll want to put on “Repeat.” Here’s hoping that each theatrical trip you make in the Summer of ’24 will make you want to attend a repeat performance, too.

Peter Filichia can be heard most weeks of the year on His new book – BRAINTEASERS FOR BROADWAY GENIUSES – is now available on Amazon and at The Drama Book Shop.