Pascal, currently starring in his Tony-nominated role of Roger in the new national tour of Rent, told Playbill.com that Queensrÿche (pronounced "Queens-Rike") has given permission to — and will collaborate with — Pascal to conceive a Broadway-aimed musical of their popular recording about a brainwashed drug addict, Nikki, who becomes an assassin and seeks the love of a reformed hooker named Mary, who is now a nun.
The project is in the early stages, with no director, librettist, producer or music director attached, but Pascal said that Queensrÿche — including frontman and co-songwriter Geoff Tate and manager Susan Tate — has given him the go-ahead, and that the new musical will include new songs and connective material by the band.
Project conceiver Pascal said that the role of Nikki has been cast: He'll play it.
The actor is a veteran of Broadway's Rent (for which he was Tony-nominated as Best Lead Actor in a Musical) and Aida, and was a replacement Emcee in Broadway's hit Cabaret. He starred in benefit concerts of Hair and Chess (and appeared in a London Chess concert with Josh Groban and Rent vet Idina Menzel) and is a rock presence in clubs and on his own rock recordings ("Blinding Light," "Civilian," "Model Prisoner"). He also co-starred in the film version of Rent, the smash hit by late composer-lyricist-librettist Jonathan Larson.
Pascal indicated that a natural launching place for Operation: Mindcrime is Seattle, where the band got its start in the '80s. The actor is reaching out to his Broadway connections to put a creative team together. "I'm talking to several different amazing book writers to transform this thing, and I need to hook up with a director because I want somebody to be with the project as it grows," Pascal said, adding that he'd like to have a draft of the show ready for a spring 2010 reading.
The musical might incorporate some content from the 2006 follow-up album, "Operation: Mindcrime II," but Pascal said that he had no interest in cobbling together a Queensrÿche "jukebox" show that might include, for example, the band's non-"Mindcrime" hit, "Silent Lucidity."
Plot-wise, he sees the show using the content of the first album, and looks forward to discussions with a librettist and director to determine the show's setting and time period. Pascal said he loves the size of the Rent cast as a template for Operation: Mindcrime: maybe 15 performers.
Pascal said he felt like he was in a position in his career where he could probably get the show created and produced, so he approached the band.
"Queensrÿche, and especially their singer, Geoff Tate, if not for him, I wouldn't be here right now," Pascal told Playbill.com. "He's the guy, when I was 12 years old, when I heard him sing and heard this band, I'd never heard anything like it before. I am definitely a product of wanting to — and trying to — sound like him all through those formative years of growing up and playing in rock bands and just idolizing this guy as a singer — and the band in general."
When the record came out, Pascal said he "was floored — I had never heard anything like it. It was like a hard-rock version of [Pink Floyd's] 'The Wall.' Not in story, but in tone and in musical aesthetic, but a harder version of that. I've always been obsessed with the record.
"Throughout the years, I've envisioned how this can be turned into a real musical, a book musical. The concept album is not nearly as specific as [The Who's] 'Tommy.' It's told in very broad strokes, so that it allows me a tremendous amount of freedom to create a story.
"[The album's] got plot points, things that happen to these characters, but it's very non-specific. These characters can be any age, any ethnicity, they can have any backstory you want to give them…"