Straight from the bright lights of Broadway, the Tony award-winning musical ‘Once‘ has come home to Dublin for a limited stay. It started life as a 2006 Irish musical film written and directed by John Carney. It was set in Dublin, and starred Glen Hansard (of the Irish folk rock band The Frames) and Markéta Irglová. It featured the song ‘Falling Slowly’ which won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2007.
The movie was adapted for the stage by Enda Walsh and directed by John Tiffany. It opened on Broadway on March 18 2012 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. It is opening in the West End on March 16th but is preceded by a European premiere performance run in our very own Gaiety theatre from February 22nd to March 9th. I went to see it last night and thoroughly loved it. I’ve been very lucky with my theatre picks lately.
The story is a simple love story, albeit with some complications, between a street busker and a Czech single mother. The leads parts are played by Declan Bennett and Zrinka Cvitešić who are both excellent musicians and performers. Their voices gel together well and Zrinka is perfect as the bossy but serious Czech. Declan has real stage charisma and the songs are handled well in his capable hands. The cast also perform all the music on stage doubling as the orchestra which is a great idea and brings the music to life. The music actually starts well before the play as the cast were on stage singing while everyone was taking their seats. The set design is minimalist designed to resemble an Irish bar with change of scenery signified by clever use of lighting. The bar was also used during the interval to serve customers who were served drinks in sippy cups on stage! There is lots of humour throughout the play at the expense of Fair City and Ronan Keating. There are some great characters in the play including Billy, the music shop owner; the Cork Banker and the mad Czech drummer. The star of the show of course is the songs performed to perfection. The moral of this story is don’t live your life in fear, a simple but effective concept. It’s also nice to see Dublin viewed in a positive way.
It is a beautiful adaption of a bittersweet and endearing film and they totally deserved all their Tony awards and the standing ovation they got last night. If you get a chance, definitely go see this play, you won’t be disappointed.