This season's longest running Off-Broadway musical is a well kept secret. Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know which on Wednesday, May 13, reaches 231 performances, passes Two Pianos, Four Hands as the season's long-distance champ.
To celebrate the event, just after Wednesday night's performance the show will link up live, via satellite, to travel expert Wendy Perrin, who wrote the Fodor's book that inspired the revue. Perrin will be offering travel tips -- live from Hong Kong, China.
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know opened Oct. 30, 1997 at New York's Triad Theatre on West 72nd St. In recent months, the show has even added 15 minutes of new material. According to spokesperson Beck Lee (reached Feb. 19), one new number looks at people's obsession with buffet dining (by Nick Santamaria, who is also the show's male understudy.) There's a new border guard sketch, plus a third solo for Jay Leonhardt, "Aging Planes."
Four performers star in Secrets, including Drama Desk nominee Kathy Fitzgerald (Swinging On A Star), James Darrah (a former Ringling Brothers clown, and Ambrose the recent revival of Hello, Dolly!), Charles Alterman, Liz McConahay and Ray DeMattis.
Music director and pianist Stan Freeman, and bassist Jay Leonhart, also take part in the performance, especially since they've contributed material to the revue. Other writers include Douglas Bernstein, Francesca Blumenthal, Michele Brourman, Michael Brown, Barry Creyton, Lesley Davison, Karen Gottlieb, Murray Grand, Glen Kelly and Denis Markell. Musical director Stan Freeman won an L.A. Drama-Logue Award for his solo as Oscar Levant, At Wit's End. Designing Secrets are Rui Rita (set & lighting) and David Brooks (costumes).
Directed by Forbidden Broadway performing veteran Patrick Quinn, Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know shows why people have wanderlust, even though visitors "suffer through every mishap, fiasco and cultural embarrassment imaginable." Two dozen songs and comic sketches comprise the evening, which not only poke fun at tourism but offer arcane travel tips and trivia.
Produced by Scott Perrin, Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know sprang from sister Wendy's travel book of the same title, now in its third mass-market printing. Perrin then went to the above mentioned cabaret songwriters and asked them to contribute original songs. The show received a workshop at Westport CT's White Barn Theatre this summer.
Side-note: It was Perrin who gave Walter Bobbie his first musical direction gig: A Grand Night For Singing, which moved from Rainbow & Stars to Broadway.
For tickets ($25-40) and information on Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know at the Triad call (212) 799-4599.
-- By David Lefkowitz