Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know

SecretsOff-Broadway Cast, 1999 (RCA) 2 Stars (2 / 5) Many composers and lyricists turned out a mixed bag of songs and sketches for Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know, an occasionally clever revue. Nearly all of the numbers fall into the category of special material that’s more about the lyrics than the music. Given the show’s title, the obvious choices for song content are here — from the cute “Naked in Pittsburgh” (about lost luggage) to the round-trip finale titled (you guessed it!) “Home.” Musical supervisor-arranger Stan Freeman contributed the smart “See It Now” and the amusing running gag “This Is Your Captain Speaking.” An enjoyable detour is a clever Private Lives spoof, performed by Nick Santa Maria and Maribeth Graham. Several bits in Glen Kelly’s “The French Song,” sung by Graham and Denise Nolan, are also fun. Cabaret performers will find this recording chock full of potential comic material for their acts, but Secrets just doesn’t know when to quit, getting to the end of the road with songs about Montezuma’s revenge and traveling on “Aging Planes.” Also, the cast’s heavy-handed approach to comedy makes the ride bumpier; apparently, none of these secrets were meant to be whispered. As a result, the often-strident singing on this album becomes grating, so this is a trip that many listeners will want to take only once. — Morgan Sills