A month ago, Rascals fans around the world were surprised and delighted to learn that the legendary blue-eyed soul group had agreed to reunite with their original lineup, for their first public performances in four decades for a series of dates at Port Chester, New York’s newly re-opened Capitol Theatre.  Although they’d ignored invitaions to reunite for years, this time they got an offer they couldn’t refuse, courtesy of E Street Band member and on-screen gangster (The Sopranos and Lilyhammer) Little Steven Van Zandt.  It’s not just a reunion concert, it’s a partially crowd-funded multi-media hybrid that will tell the band’s story. The Rascals: Once Upon A Dream‘s first three shows (December 13, 14 and 15) have all sold out, and three more (December 20, 21 and 22) have just gone on sale. The crowd-funding comes via a Kickstarter campaign which ends Wednesday, and is 90% towards the goal of $100,000. 

Van Zandt felt that simply reuniting the original members would be great, but he wanted to do more than a reunion concert. He told CBS Local, “People know the music. The Rascals had 18 hits in five years, three #1 singles, so people know ‘Groovin’,’ ‘People Got To Be Free,’ ‘Good Lovin’,’ ‘A Beautiful Morning,’ but do they really know the band?  The answer is ‘no.’   I want to tell their life story a little bit, and do it in a muti-media way to make it really entertaining.” 

To that end, he recruited lighting and production designer Marc Brickman, who knows a thing or two about adding a visual and narrative elements to live performances. “He was Bruce’s first lighting guy, he’s worked with Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney and The Olympics.”   He also worked with Roger Waters on his recently-completed Wall tour.

Steven continues: “I wanted to do something special, I wanted to do something with big screens, I want to have them tell their story, I want to throw in some different elements, like actors acting out scenes from key moments in The Rascals’ career.  It’s a new kind of hybrid. And then when The Rascals play at the end, they’re gonna play all the hits, and a lot of B-sides, and some things that they’ve never played live.”

So, it’s a multi-media show about the band, that ends with a performance by the band.  He explains further: “This would be like if Jersey Boys had The Four Seasons in the show.  So it makes it a more entertaining evening by not only having the music, but by telling the story, because they have a great story. Jersey Boys may be the coolest story in rock and roll, but this is a close second! This is a new idea, and if it works, it could open up a whole lot of interesting new shows because there are a lot of great ‘60s bands still around.”

rascals once upon a dream “Like If ‘Jersey Boys’ Had The Four Seasons” – Little Steven Explains The Rascals “Once Upon A Dream”

Between all of the different aspects of the multi-media show, the Kickstarter campaign, and the challenges of getting the band back together, it’s a lot of work for just a few dates.   But Steven says it the show may have some life beyond the Capitol Theater.  “Maybe we’re heading towards Broadway in the end.   The first three shows sold out very quickly, we just added three others.  They’re gonna sell out, I know that people are coming from all over the world to see this. If they want to participate in the production itself, they should go to Kickstarter.  They can contribute anywhere from $1 to $5000, there’s a few days left to help us hit our goal.   Everything we get will help go towards the production, to make the show even bigger.”

The Kickstarter campaign offers lots of great incentives (beyond the fact that you’ll be helping to fund a historic rock and roll reunion).  The $1 donation gets you an audio download of an interview that Van Zandt and rock critic Dave Marsh did with the members of the band.  $5000 gets you two tickets for opening week of the show, a meet and greet with Van Zandt and the band before the show, and dinner with them afterwards. In between those extremes, a $100 “Dreamer” pledge will get your name and face projected onto the stage, along with ’60s icons like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, before the curtain raises on the show. For the $150 “Lover’s Pledge,” a photo of you and your significant other will be projected onto the screen during the Rascals’ encore.

(Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website that allows creators to ask the public to help fund projects including films, music, stage shows, video games and more.)   

Brian Ives, CBS Local 


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