NEW YORK (AP) — Fans of The Midtown Men — the guys who sing 1960s classics by The Shirelles, The Rascals and The Ronettes — may freak out next month when they’re joined onstage by a Shirelle, a Rascal and a Ronette.
Music icons Shirley Alston Reeves, Gene Cornish and Ronnie Spector will take the stage as special guest stars for a one-night-only concert June 20 at New York City’s Beacon Theatre.
“What a thrill and what an honor,” said Tony Award-nominee J. Robert Spencer, who together with Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria and Daniel Reichard are The Midtown Men.
The four members, who starred in the original production of the Broadway smash “Jersey Boys,” are winding down their fifth North American tour, singing timeless ’60s tunes by such groups as the Beach Boys, Beatles and the Mamas and the Papas.
Discussions are in the works about what the three guest star will sing and play, but it’s very likely some of their old hits. Reeves is the former lead singer of The Shirelles, Cornish is the guitarist from the Rascals, and Spector was the lead singer of The Ronettes.
Spencer said The Midtown Men was originally conceived in 2010 as a side gig. “Five years later — 400 concerts later — it’s really been going so great,” he said, laughing. Over the years, they’ve played the White House and with the National Symphony Orchestra.
Upcoming concerts will be held in Austin, Texas, on May 23; Red Bank, New Jersey, on May 30 and Westbury, New York, on June 19. After the Beacon Theatre show, they’re booked for Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget Casino on Aug. 28.
The group constantly updates its song list with gems from the ’60s, including The Drifters’ “Up on the Roof,” The Turtles’ “Happy Together” and The Zombies’ “Time of the Season.”
“I don’t get sick of these tunes. I don’t. And we keep adding new tunes to the catalog,” Spencer said. “We have a lot of people that come back and see us over and over again and so we want to continuously keep it fresh as well as for us.”
He said he watched with dismay much of the recent Billboard Music Awards and mourned the overreliance on electronics and what he called a lack of artistry when it comes to lyrics in today’s music. Music of the ’60s, he said, was heartfelt.
“I love being able to perform these songs. I get a thrill out of it every night getting to sing a Lennon and McCartney song — like “In My Life” — I love being able to sing “California Dreaming” by the Mamas and the Papas. It just resonates with me.”
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