Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald once famously declared “there are no second acts in American lives.” But the writer didn’t live long enough to see The Rascals prove him wrong.
The hit-makers are back together again and have been given a millennial makeover in a hybrid rock-n-roll concert, Broadway show, theatrical experience called “Once Upon A Dream Starring the Rascals.” The week-long engagement goes nightly until Sunday, Oct. 20 at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams St., Phoenix. Tickets range from $62 to $128 and can be purchased by visiting TicketMaster.com, or calling 1-800-745-3000.
It’s first time the Rascals, America’s classic blue-eyed soul band, have played together in more than four decades. Original band members Felix Cavaliere (keyboard and vocals), Eddie Brigati (vocals), Dino Danelli (drums) and Gene Cornish (guitar) will present a complete concert performance including songs that captured the spirit of America in the 1960s, such as their hits “Good Lovin’,” “Lonely Too Long,” “It’s a Beautiful Morning,” “How Can I Be Sure” and “Groovin’.” The 28-song production will also feature the history of the iconic group told through archival footage, narration, and dramatic film segments viewed on the latest LED screen technology.
The two-and-a-half-hour show is a technical marvel put together by world-renowned designer/director Marc Brickman, who has staged productions with Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Keith Urban and Paul McCartney. He said he likes the show because it engages the audience and attempts something new.
“You never see a band playing with historical footage, and then stop, stand there, and start talking to you like they’re your friends. That part’s never been done. Believe me, I’ve done everything in this business but I’ve never heard of this concept before,” Brickman said. “This is all in addition to the fact that this is an iconic band playing real music with the four original members, and reuniting after 40 years. All of this makes for a very special evening.”
“Once Upon a Dream” is a concept by musician/actor Steven Van Zandt, who has made several attempts since 1982 to get the Rascals to reunite again. Van Zandt penned the concert/theater hybrid and co-directs and produces the show with his wife, Maureen, and Brickman. Van Zandt finally assembled the group in 2010 for a charity event, and everyone was knocked out by the group’s sound.
“Steven Van Zandt was the only person that could have pulled this off. He is a believer, a fan, a friend. He saw more in us than we saw in ourselves,” said the 67-year-old Brigati. “The greatest compliment Steven ever gave us was when he said, ‘The music never went dark. You guys might have gone dark, but the music never did.’”
After seven albums, 13 Top 40 singles, an estimated million miles of travel and thousands of dates and appearances, the original group went dark in 1970. They claim the unrelenting demand for product from their record company coupled with years of being on the road left them “fried.” There were also petty jealousies, ego clashes, strained relationships and professional mismanagement — all of which are reflected in “Once Upon A Dream.”
“It was a pretty heavy time in terms of what was going on with the group and what was happening in America,” said Cornish, 69. “President Kennedy had just been killed, The Beatles invaded America, The Vietnam War and civil rights were in full fledge, followed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. That’s a quite a load to handle and it changed us.”
After the group’s dissolution the Rascals sold off their lucrative publishing rights for a pittance, a move that most likely cost the band millions in potential royalties over the years. They say those years left them disillusioned and embittered. But with the passage of time, their 1997 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a renewed sense of camaraderie, they’re enjoying the second act of their lives and career and savoring every moment.
“It’s a happy reunion and we are family regardless of what has happened in the past,” Cornish said. “We are family and our records are our children.”
For more information, visit http://rascalsdream.com.
• Marshall Terrill is a freelance writer living in the Phoenix area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.