While many of their ’60s contemporaries long ago gave in to the temptation to reunite, soul-steeped hometown heroes the Rascals stubbornly resisted any offers, giving the 15-show Broadway run of Once Upon a Dream an added urgency. A multimedia production augmenting the beloved foursome’s live performance with narration, archival footage and dramatic re-creations, the show is the brainchild of scripter, coproducer and codirector Steven Van Zandt, who funded the production via Kickstarter.
Although it’s nice to see the Rascals receiving upscale props, the bells and whistles hardly seem necessary, considering the enduring resonance of the group’s music. In its heyday, the quartet boasted a pair of singularly soulful singers in Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati, and a commanding sound built on Cavaliere’s surging organ, Gene Cornish’s slashing guitar and Dino Danelli’s thunderous drumming. Along with a knack for packing such singles as “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin’ ” and “People Got to Be Free” with wall-to-wall melody, energy and emotion, the band possessed a playful experimental streak, as well as a heartfelt social conscience that inspired some of its finest songs.
The original Rascals splintered in the late ’60s, with interpersonal tensions making a full-scale reunion unlikely until a 2010 benefit gig. A six-night stand of Once Upon a Dream at the Capitol Theatre in Westchester last December showed the long-estranged bandmates’ chops and chemistry to be intact, intensifying the anticipation for this auspicious Broadway debut.—Scott Schinder
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