Playing for a limited time at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, Once Upon A Dream Starring The Rascals is not your typical Broadway in Chicago fare. My first clue that the production was more concert than play came when the pre-taped welcoming message (spoken by producer/ musical legend/ Soprano star Steven Van Zandt) told the audience to do whatever they wanted with their cell phones. He actually said “Do whatever the f**k you want.” Then the band played and I got to tell you, the Rascals can groove and rock with the best of them. Even someone like me, a complete generation removed from the 60s, found myself nodding along with their soul infused garage rock beats. The trippy psychedelic video montage playing non-stop in the background was a nice touch too. And if you happen to be of a certain age, like the Age of Aquarius, you might find yourself dancing in the aisles. I brought my Dad along and he probably would have done a lot more dancing if I let him.
Although narrated in part by fellow Soprano’s alumni Vincent Pastore (or, as he is better known, Big Pussy), most of the story is told in behind the scenes interviews projected on a giant screen. Honestly it was sometimes a little hard to follow but I did catch enough colorful anecdotes to be entertained. Really, it was enough just hearing phrases like “knock around guys” delivered in classic New Jersey style. Mostly though the band let their music do the talking as they rocked their way through twenty-eight of their greatest hits. Through their music one gets the sense of a group of brothers and friends growing from being a cover band to having their own unique sound.
Curiously the one aspect of their story that was not given much attention was the end. By their own admission they missed most of the 70s as well as the following decades due to drugs and lawyers. Maybe a more thorough examination would have halted the reunion all together? Or maybe they just wanted to keep the focus on their many accomplishments. Whatever the reasons, Once Upon A Dream is a dream worth visiting again.
Bottom Line: Once Upon A Dream Starring The Rascals is recommended especially for those whom witnessed the 60s first hand. If, like me, you are more the MTV generation, then you might not find it quite as entertaining. This production is scheduled to run on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights with a matinée performance on Sunday through November 10th. Tickets can be purchased here.
Photos courtesy of Broadway in Chicago