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The Carmens also deserve an ovation for the caliber of acts they signed. From The Man in Black’s signature intro of “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash,” to Roy Orbison’s famous crying falsetto, management delivered on its promise of “the best of American theatre from Broadway, motion pictures, Las Vegas, and television.” The visiting celebrities—whether stars, starlets, or entertainment legends reviving past glory days—dazzled tiny Hyannis, bringing business flocking.

Neil Sedaka cruised into the harbor on his 60-foot yacht, singing his hit “Oh, Carol,”; the showy pianist Liberace performed in a $300,000 blue-fox cape; Patti Page sang “Old Cape Cod” while Hyannis’ Main Street was renamed in her honor for the day; and Bob Hope offered up his deadpan routine for an entire week in 1980. “I’m staying with a friend in Osterville,” Hope quipped to his audience. “I find it a very quiet town, especially at night. If you need to burp after 7 p.m., you have to go over to Centerville.”

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In 1990, the Melody Tent—purchased by South Shore Playhouse Associates (SSPA)—became a sister theatre to the South Shore Music Circus and underwent a gradual renovation with upgrades to everything from its seating to the sound system. Each August, Executive Producer Vincent Longo and General Manager Tony Raine, backed by 80 tent staffers, initiate their search for diverse talent in fresh genres for the following summer’s lineup.

With most artists performing at both venues, the number of shows has increased, with the likes of Buddy Guy, LeAnn Rimes, Willie Nelson, Adam Lambert, Counting Crows, Peter Frampton, Howie Mandel, and Sugarland stirring up the mix of returning crooners and comedians. As a nonprofit organization, SSPA also has donated $3.6 million to date to local arts groups, including Harwich Junior Theatre, Cape Cod Conservatory, and Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre.

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