MOMS AFTERNOON OUT: ONCE: Broadway Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman
ONCE , which opened to rave reviews on March 18, 2012, won eight Tony Awards including Best Musical and was also named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critic Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards. I understand why! I just now got around to seeing it, and the production was simply lovely.
ONCE features a book by award-winning Irish playwright & screenwriter, Enda Walsh (Penelope, Hunger, The New Electric Ballroom), the Academy Award-winning music and lyrics of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, direction by the acclaimed John Tiffany (Black Watch), movement by Steven Hoggett (Black Watch, American Idiot) and music supervision and orchestrations by Martin Lowe (Mamma Mia!).
Featuring an impressive ensemble of actor/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, ONCE tells the tale of a Dublin street musician on the brink of abandoning his dream when a plucky, beautiful Czech immigrant, takes an interest in his stirring love songs and helps propel both his personal and professional life. As the chemistry between them grows, his confidence too grows, and he wants to take her on a romantic musical journey with him. Stumbling block — she is a young mother with a daughter who is separated from her husband, and he has an old flame in New York who remains on his mind.
The cast of ONCE features Paul Alexander Nolan as ‘Guy’ and Joanna Christie as ‘Girl,’ who both command the stage. Also in the company are Adam Wesley Brown, Laurel Griggs, David Patrick Kelly, Jillian Lebling, Katrina Lenk, Brandon McGibbon, Anne L. Nathan, Andy Taylor, Carlos Valdes, Erikka Walsh, Paul Whitty, and J. Michael Zygo. In addition to the casts melodic harmony, they are very much in step, even with some interesting synchronistic movements.
The story is powerful. The book is both touching and humorous. The poised, talented and passionate actors fully embody their roles.
ONCE is based on the Irish film of the same name, and the on-screen leads Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová — who also wrote the score — fell in love in real life — and it’s easy to see how theatre-goers fall in love with the show. In fact, as I got at the theatre 20 minutes before of the start the play, it was like a party on stage….members of the audience mingling on stage with cast, as there was singing and dancing and drinking…which flowed seamlessly into the start of the musical itself.
The music is hauntingly beautiful and stirring, the production has an intimate feel. While I enjoy big song ‘n dance numbers and the grandiosity of many Broadway musicals, I appreciated the simple intimacy of ONCE.
I had the privilege after attending a performance of the show to attend a special talk back with almost all of the cast members, and it was a treat to meet them up close ‘n personal and to hear them share about the experiences with ONCE.
ONCE is also now playing in London’s West End at the Phoenix Theatre where it opened April 9 after premiering to critical acclaim in Dublin in February 2013. ONCE is also playing to rave reviews in cities around the country on a US national tour.
Tickets for the Broadway production in NYC are on sale via Telecharge.com or by phone at 212-239-6200.