Anyone who has switched on a radio almost anywhere in the world during the last half-century has probably heard a Neil Sedaka song.
Where the Boys Are.
Laughter in the Rain.
Love Will Keep Us Together.
And scores more, sung either by the composer himself or by such people as the Captain and Tennille, Connie Francis, the Carpenters, Jimmy Clanton or Clay Aiken.
His songs have been No. 1 hits and his concerts sold out from Australia to Italy (in Italian, yet) and across the United States, from his first big song in 1958 to this very day.
In 2005, writers Erik Jackson and Ben H. Winters turned favorite Sedaka tunes into a "jukebox musical," a relatively new art form that braids the best songs of a singer, composer or group into a book musical.
Think Mama Mia! the tunes of ABBA, or All Shook Up, the songs of Elvis Presley.
The Jackson/Winters show is Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Neil Sedaka Musical. It opens July 22 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre for a five-week run that ends Aug. 21.
The story takes place in the 1960s Catskills Mountains at Esther's Paradise Resort, where young and rather naive Marge Gelman (Laura Hodos, Sentimental Journey, Guys & Dolls) was supposed to be spending her honeymoon.
Instead, she's there with best gal pal Lois Warner (Lisa Manuli, Carbonelle Award for Motherhood, The Musical). It seems that Marge was jilted at the altar, when her fiance took off with the wedding's florist. In a waste-not mood, Marge and Lois decide to use the paid-in-advance honeymoon as a way to help the deserted bride forget her troubles.
They meet resort owner Esther (Kay Francis, Show Palace debut), who is having financial problems, but still has a stellar floor show in the persons of heartthrob crooner Del Delmonico (Jim Sorensen, managing director of FreeFall Theatre) and Borscht Belt comic Harvey (Tony Triano, Mr. Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors).
Lois tries to spark a romance between Marge and Del, but it's the nerdy cabana boy Gabe (Nick Battaglia, Show Palace debut) whose heart is true.
It's all laced together with Sedaka's hits, including Lonely Night, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen, Stupid Cupid, Oh, Carol!, King of Clowns, the songs listed above, and, of course, the title song, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.
The family-friendly Breaking Up has played to good reviews in scores of theaters, including a long run in Branson, Mo.
Sedaka's career has had ups and downs in America, but thanks in big part to a guest judge appearance on American Idol in 2003 that rekindled interest in his music, the 21st century has seen one of his highest ups.
The Show Palace production team includes Patel Conservatory instructor Lisa Vorreiter as director; Jeremy Fenn-Smith (Thoroughly Modern Millie) as musical director; Scott Daniel (Seymour in Little Shop) as choreographer and costume/wig designer; Susan Haldeman as stage manager; and Tom Hansen as set and lighting designer and technical director.