Once

 

Based on the film written & directed by John Carneybroadway In chicago

Book by Enda Walsh

Music & Lyrics by Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

Directed by John Tiffany

Movement by Steven Hoggett

Music Supervision by Martin Lowe

Produced by Broadway In Chicago

At the Oriental Theatre, Chicago

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“Isn’t this unfinished?” Guy tells Girl.

“But we haven’t started anything,” Girl replies.

“No? Well it feels like we’ve started,” Guy says.

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“How’s the heart? -asks Da to Guy

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Sweet, charming and totally romantic pop/folk music tugs at the heart.

How often does a low budget Indi film become a Broadway musical and wins 8 Tony Awards while using haunting Irish and pop/folk music?  Almost never – until – now! The first National Tour of Once has arrived for a 3 week run at the Oriental Theatre to a rousing reception. This sweet, charming and heartfelt musical is engaging and energetic as it pulls on your heartstrings. Musically, it is filled with contemporary pop and modern original Irish folk score by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova – who both were in the film version of Once. Their song, “Falling Slowly,’ picked up an Oscar for Best Song.

oriental theatreoriental theatre

Once is a love story that tells the story of an Irish musician – Guy (Stuart Ward fresh off the London production of Once)  and a Czech Girl -(Dani de Waal) who are drawn together by their  love of music. Guy is a street musician who plays melancholy folk styled tunes on his guitar. He laments the heartbreaking loss of his girlfriend who left him for New York.  He mopes around Dublin with only his vacuum repair work in his Da’s shop to keep him busy. His angst has him inert until Girl rescues him as an unexpected friendship and musical creative collaboration evolves into a strong and complicated romance. The music contains the raw emotions of the two as well as their fellow band members who are a compilation of local Dublin friends, relatives and pub associates.

oriental theatre

Utilizing a mirror-filled Irish pub set, all the characters double as  musicians. They stay on stage for the entire show and they move into and out of character deftly. Unlike the film, book writer Edna Walsh has amplified these characters as examples of a nice cross section of contemporary Dublin folks, warts and all. We get a glimpse into their heartbreaks and dreams, and we feel their pain as life happens to them. They  express their spontaneous feeling thru their music and their raw movement. Raymond Bokhour as Da, John Steven Gardner as Eamon, Donna Garner as Buruska, Evan Harrington as Billy were particularly impressive. The entire cast displayed outstanding musical and acting chops. We easily laugh and cry with them- and we care about all especially with the deeply felt romantic connection between Guy and Girl despite our knowledge that they’ll probably never become an ‘item.’ We muse and wonder is Girl is  Guy’s angel or his new found love? She is, indeed, the one who helps Guy find his music again. She gives him hope and purpose through their mutual love of music.

oriental theatre

The haunting tunes together with several rousing show stoppers, makes Once a contemporary folk musical celebration of life and love.  Once is original, innovative in its simplicity, yet it is a sophisticated and understated  work filled with daring honesty. Anyone who has ever felt the pain of heartbreak will relate and empathize with Once’s tone. This beautiful musical is well staged, well sung and well acted. Once is a refreshingly new approach to Broadway musicals proving that you don’t need spectacular sets, lighting and other visual gimmicks and extremely loud music to have a  successful Broadway musical. Audiences still crave romance and love stories, especially ones that tug sat our heartstrings. Once sure does that! This is a “must see.”

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: October 9, 2013

For more info checkout the Once page at theatreinchicago.com

At the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, chicago, IL, www.broadwayinchicago.com,  tickets $27 – $95, Tuesdays thru Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 8 pm, matinees on Wednesdays, Sturdays & Sundays t 2 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, thru October 27, 2013

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