Cast recording exclusive to Apple

“Passing Strange” will be the first Broadway tuner to release its original cast recording exclusively on iTunes, more than a month before the CD arrives in stores.

Ghostlight Records’ digital release, set for May 27, makes the “Strange” OCR available in time to take advantage of the awards attention producers hope the show will receive after Tony noms are announced Tuesday.

Due to the time lag for manufacturing and shipping, the CD is not expected to be available in brick-and-mortar stores until July. Cast album was recorded April 14 in an unusual live session at the show’s venue, the Belasco Theater. (Most cast albums are taped in a studio.)

“I wanted to make the music available in time for all the exposure the show is hopefully going to get in the next few weeks,” said Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight prexy Kurt Deutsch.

The iTunes exclusive reps another first for the old-fashioned legit industry, which like other sectors of showbiz is working to cultivate the benefits of digital-age fixtures such as YouTube and MySpace.

According to Deutsch, the initial iTunes-only release makes sense for a show like “Passing Strange,” a rock tuner that aims to appeal to a young — and therefore tech-savvy — demo. In recent years, he has seen downloads jump from 5% to 25%-30% of sales for albums of youth-appeal tuners such as “Legally Blonde.”

Deutsch and Bill Rosenfield exec produced the “Passing Strange” OCR, with Stew and Heidi Rodewald, co-creators of the musical, serving as producers.

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