If you’ve seen the film Once, then you know the magic that awaits you with the stage adaptation. Based on the 2006 film (which won the Academy Award for “Falling Slowly”), the musical first premiered in 2011 at the New York Theater Workshop. In 2012, it transferred to Broadway and in that same year it was nominated for eleven Tony Awards, and won eight of those awards including Best Musical and Best Actor.
The story is set in Dublin, and starts with “Guy” singing a song clearly illustrating he’s been through a painful breakup. Lured by his music, a young Czech immigrant “Girl” approaches him – once she learns he repairs hoovers (vacuum cleaners) for a living, she offers to pay for the repair of her hoover through music. “Girl” is persistent and rather charming with her wit. We soon see that she too is gifted with the talent of song.
As their friendship progresses, it becomes clear that they both have personal struggles they’re dealing with – relationship problems – “Guy” with his ex (he was cheated on) and “Girl” with her husband who no longer lives with her and her daughter. Through music and friendship, both “Guy” and “Girl” find exactly what they need – and help each other move on from the stagnant and painful place they were in at the beginning of this story.
What’s truly unique and charming about Once is that it retains that same hidden gem feeling that the movie possesses. There’s a small cast of thirteen that also doubles as the orchestra. The minimalist bar set has a very off-Broadway feel to it with cast members simply stepping into the light from the sides of the stage when it’s their turn to go on. And if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be onstage performing at the Fox Theatre – you’re in luck – because audience members are invited on stage before the play starts and at intermission.
The music in Once is the same music from the film. It has a beautiful rawness to it. You can hear the emotion in the lyrics, and the two leads do a wonderful job at capturing the emotion of the characters and portraying that beautifully to the audience. The orchestra provides an unexpected treasure with their Irish folk songs as well. You can’t help but want to get up and dance through half of them and order a whisky on your way.
The film Once has always held a special place in my heart, reminding me of the beauty of friendships between two individuals who needed one another more than they ever realized. I could detail this out further, but I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who aren’t familiar with the unpredictable, honest and beautiful story that Once has to tell. I’ll simply say – see it.
Once is playing at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta through this Sunday (March 9th). You can get tickets through Ticketmaster!
Photo Credit: Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal from the ONCE Tour Company © Joan Marcus