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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 30 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 22
Once (the musical) is worth seeing twice
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Once (the musical) is worth seeing twice

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

ONCE, THE MUSICAL
THE PARAMOUNT THEATRE
Through June 8


Once is the Tony award winning musical that came to town without much fan fair; and that only goes to continue it's theme. It's a beautiful modern day love story that is subtle in its unfolding and yet seduces the audience from the very beginning. The charm of the show is like the music within it; it's soft, powerful and takes hold of the heart.

The storyline is a modern approach to the classic tale. Boy meets girl - in this case, literally, as the main characters are called 'Guy' and 'Girl.' There's an attraction, but a situation prevents them from getting too involved. Instead they become deeply entwined through their music; he through his guitar and vocals, and she through piano. Guy is a Dublin resident singer/guitarist on the verge of walking away from his music when Girl hears his song and convinces him to pursue both the music and the girl (who now lives in New York) that inspired it. Within a short time their platonic relationship has gotten deeper, but that's when the situations come into play, and what follows is a beautiful story not only of love, but of pure inspiration and the power of a Muse.

The cast of characters is relatively small with thirteen members, and that includes the musicians. Stuart Ward plays the role of Guy, a struggling singer/song writer with a powerful voice. The audience is easily drawn in and relates to his struggling career at music and love. Ward's voice has a pleasant but raw edge to it, making it perfect for the combination of Irish-toned music and lamenting rock-n-roll. Dani de Waal plays the role of Girl with a stoic innocence and commentary that develops into a woman of feeling. Her character is stiff at first and yet immediately endears the audience to her quirky, almost awkward, personality. Her voice is strong and easily understood despite the Czech accent used for the show. From the very beginning, the audience can sense the attraction between these two lead characters and the chemistry between them is palpable.

The Ensemble is more than supporting characters or actors. They consist of eleven extremely talented actors and musicians. Since there is no band, all accompaniments come from the various actors (most playing string instruments, as can be expected with Irish music) and this is no easy task. Aside from being intermingling characters throughout, they have to play instruments to interact with as much ease as if speaking straight dialogue. Instead of black-dressed stage hands changing the sets between scenes, these actors/musicians all pitch in and weave themselves in and out of the ongoing setting. They do it with such grace and rhythm that the audience is never once left with a feeling of questions as to what's going on on-stage. All of them play minor characters with speaking parts, but it is the way they interact with their instruments that they all go above and beyond any natural acting talents. The entire cast is truly a joy to watch and behold as they celebrate the music they are playing.

One of the leading characters of this production - without hesitation - is the bar setting itself. When the auditorium doors open, the stage is already busy with people, music and cocktails. 'The Band' is already in motion, with music and singing going on at full tilt. It's as if we have entered in the middle of a party! (The one drawback is that the start of the show is so subtle, many audience members didn't know it was happening, and continued to stand, chat and walk the aisles until they finally noticed the dialogue.) The setting is an open-spaced bar serving beer, wine and bottles of water to those wandering about the stage. Audience members (with proper ID, of course) are allowed to go on stage during the show and have drinks in this 'Irish Pub.' The same goes at intermission. And, to fully enjoy the production in every sense, do yourself a favor - allow the time to go onstage, enjoy a drink, and take in the scenery from a different perspective.

This is the kind of love story that comes about only Once. It sets the bar for a fresh take on an old idea, and entertains, transforms and reminds us of the glory, of the pitfalls, and the limitations of love.



Once, the musical is based on the 2006 independent film by the same name. Expanding their celluloid success, the musical's book is by Edna Walsh, with music/lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Making its first appearance on Broadway on February 28, 2012, the musical is still currently playing to packed houses. Nominated for eleven 2012 Tony Awards, the musical won 8 awards including Best Musical, Best Leading Actor in a Musical (Steve Kazee), Best Leading and Featured Actress in a musical (Cristin Milloti, Elizabeth A. Davis) and Best Choreography (Steve Hoggett) among others.

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