I am a big fan of musicals. From my first experience at Phantom of the Opera with my fellow high school classmates at QPAC to my recent experience at Once in New York , I've enjoyed every single one of them.
On my recent trip to New York, I vowed to see a Broadway show. It was hard to pick what to see because there were just so many, but I finally settled with Once, which was playing at Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.
It was so beautiful, heartfelt and emotionally exhilarating. At the end of the show, I had tears in my eyes. And let me assure you, I wasn't the only one.
Based on the 2006 film of the same name, Once tells the story of a Dublin street musician (Guy) who works in his father's shop fixing vacuums during the day and plays his music in local pubs at night. He's about to give up on his music when he meets a young Czech immigrant (Girl) who hears him play and asks him questions about his love songs. Her persistence of not allowing him to give up on his music and their shared love of music spark an unexpected friendship over the course of a week. And together, they come up with money to record a demo album. While Guy's music skyrockets to new heights, their relationship also evolves into a powerful but complicated love story.
I walked into the intimate theatre and was surprised to see the onstage bar with audience members enjoying a drink or two. About 15 minutes before the show started, the actors, who were also the show's musicians, appeared playing a few Irish standards with attendees gathered around, just like in a bar. Unlike your usual musical, this felt more like a play with music as songs were a natural part of the story blended seamlessly together by a very talented cast. The cast played their instrument with enthusiasm and sang with conviction, which was really breathtaking and incredible. The sounds of violins, the accordion, the mandolin, guitars, and the cello all together were just magical.
I was about five rows from the stage and felt right in the heart of the whole thing. The singing, acting and dancing were all beyond magnificent and I would see it again. And even now as I listen to the songs from Once, it gives me the chills.
This is definitely not some soppy love story or your typical dazzling Broadway show. With wit, lots of humour and interesting characters, Once will make you crack a smile or even burst out laughing at times. The unforgettable songs written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová are just beautiful and brilliant. The sets don't change much and neither do the costumes and the music isn't the typical big stage number. However, the intimacy of this show really exposes you to the raw talent each cast member possesses. I hadn't seen the movie, read the book or listened to the music before I went to see the show, so I'm not sure how it compares, but it is definitely a very memorable experience.
Once premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop in 2011 before appearing on Broadway in 2012. This is truly an amazing production and it's no surprise that it's won eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Actor and Best Book. It's also won various other awards and there has been a London production and is also touring around the US. It is also coming to Melbourne in September 2014 so keep your eyes peeled for more information via the Once Musical website. To find out more about Once, visit the Once the Musical - Official Broadway Site.
I saw it on my last night in New York and gosh, what a way to end a perfect holiday.