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It Happens Here: Historic Cape Cod Melody Tent still hosting iconic acts in Hyannis

It Happens Here: Historic Cape Cod Melody Tent still hosting iconic acts in Hyannis
It Happens Here: Historic Cape Cod Melody Tent still hosting iconic acts in Hyannis 03:47

HYANNIS -- Hyannis is the largest of seven villages in the town of Barnstable. 

Three homes on a sprawling six acres make up the famed Kennedy Compound and, perhaps more iconic, Cape Cod Potato Chips. 

The kettle-cooked snack got its start in Hyannis 42 years ago and are still made here today. Even louder than the crunch of a Cape Cod Potato Chip is the Cape Cod Melody Tent.   

"We just have something a little bit different and the people who notice it more are the artists themselves," Tony Raine told WBZ-TV. 

Raine, who is originally from the U.K., is the Director of Production and has been running the show at the Melody Tent since 1994. It was another Brit who brought the first tent to Cape Cod more than 70 years ago.   

"The Cape Cod Melody Tent was established in 1950 by a British actress, Gertrude Lawrence, who made her debut on Cape Cod in 1936," Raine said. "And as economy shifted and theater got more expensive and more elaborate, we evolved into strictly concert spaces,

Moving from theater to music wasn't the only big change. The tent was physically moved from Main Street to its present-day location in 1953. Even the shape evolved from square to round. Today, it seats 2,250 and Raine says there's not a bad seat in the house.

Raine also says visiting artists' favorite feature is always the 360-degree rotating stage.  

The list of legendary artists who have performed at the Melody Tent includes The Kinks, Tony Bennett, Carole King, and Diana Ross. KC & The Sunshine Band will play there Friday night.

"This month is actually the 60th anniversary of Liza Minelli's stage debut right here. Liza Minelli was in here as a stagehand while she was in school," Raine shared.  

Just like Liza, Raine says many local theater majors also get their start here working shows over the summer.   

These days, country artists tend to draw the biggest crowds. As far as keeping everyone in their seats, that's a rule that tends to get broken.  

"It's sort of a popular vote thing," Raine says. "If everybody is up, everybody is up. If there are three people up, we try to have them sit down."  

The Music Circus in Cohasset is the sister venue of the Melody Tent. Both tents are owned and operated by South Shore Playhouse.  

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