January 19-24, 2016 at The Schuster - Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards including Best Musical.
January 19-24, 2016 at The Schuster - Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards including Best Musical, ONCE is a truly original Broadway experience.
Let’s be honest, full disclosure, to the unknown ONCE sounds pretty boring. Two foreigners who fall in love while writing music together doesn’t exactly create much excitement. It is based on an Academy award winning movie, but who really watches independent foreign films? Not me. My expectations for ONCE were pretty low, but I was totally wrong. I’m married so it’s no surprise that I was wrong, it happens all the time, but there’s not even any defense in this case as I was way off. ONCE is a theatrical masterpiece to cherish forever.
The expression, ‘Less is more,’ is proven true through ONCE. There are no luxurious set pieces, stunning costumes, or high dollar special effects, just a touching love story told by the skills of a tremendously talented cast. The stage is filled with everything needed by the casts gifted voices and musical genius. There is much excitement for Cinderella which comes to the Schuster Center next month, and its sure to be a ‘bigger production’ but the true magic of theater can be seen in ONCE. There is no glass slipper, just total soul giving performances that creates a heart-warming love story.
Part of the magic of ONCE is how it pulls the audience in and makes you part of the story, without realizing it. There is no curtain that rises, and those that arrive early can even go up on stage and have a drink at the Irish tavern that’s set up and one by one, some people arrive with instruments and start to sing. Eventually the ticket holders take their seat and the music continues as a couple more songs are played. I started to wonder, is this the show? Ummmm, there were no announcements. Nobody is going to know to turn their cell phones off or who the sponsors are. There has to be an official introduction.
Then she appears and things begin to be set in motion, I say she because no name is given to her, but she is played brilliantly by Mackenzie Lesser-Roy. She meets…Him, played by Sam Cieri who has a voice with the power to split the sea, or at least a heart. He is ready to give up on music, but she is determined to not let him give up. The first song they sing together, ‘Falling Slowly,’ is one of the most magical theater moments you will ever witness and again the only tools used were their musical talents.
Not only is Cieri vocally perfect for the role, but he’s also right in tune with the reserved and heartbroken demeanor of the character. We feel his emotions and connect to the pain from which his music comes. Furthermore, Lesser-Roy is an artist on the piano but is also a maestro with the strings of our heart by using all her resources to create a response that resonates deep within us. They are an amazing duo that makes their music blessed with enrichment.
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an entire cast that is so in-synch with their roles and acts as such a cohesive group. Each of their movements served a purpose, which were clearly defined, and they were in perfect rhythm with one another. Each individual plays a vital role in the final product and takes their part with the utmost seriousness. They are all ‘on’ for every single second of the show, even when sitting in the shadows, their expressions speak and they provide a backdrop, often through music. There are many impressive things about ONCE, near the top of the list is the various instruments that each cast member plays. There is no orchestra as every chord of music played comes from on stage, which adds to the authenticity and helps the audience to feel part of the action. A further credit to the cast, there is no time wasted. The transitions from scene to scene are done with their fluid movements a only tables and chairs are used to change the setting to various locations…remember, sometimes less is more.
Though the ensemble cast is a solid team, there is also some individuality between them, which became clearer as the show went on. A few of them are the Hawaiian shirt wearing, self- professed Karate master, Billy (John Hays), the Banker, who has a funny solo and maybe some lesbian tendencies (Jenn Chandler), the wearer of warm-up pants with Wright State colors (it’s all I could think of when I first saw them) who also plays the drums and drinks lots of coffee (Liam Fennecken), and the jezebel with a very short mini-skirt on (I quickly forgot the Wright State pants) played by Marlene Ginader. It’s a real credit to the rest of the cast that they are even noticed when on stage with Ginader in that skirt. That is how talented they are.
A word of advice to potential audience members, don’t overlook ONCE simply because it’s not glitzy and well known. It’s musical theatre at its best, in its purest form. If it’s a fairytale romance you are seeking, look no further as your heart will be filled by ONCE. It’s better than you could ever dream of. ONCE continues through January 24 at the Schuster Center.
Featuring an impressive ensemble of actors/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, ONCE tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician who’s about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. As the chemistry between them grows, his music soars to powerful new heights…but their unlikely connection turns out to be deeper and more complex than your everyday romance. Emotionally captivating and theatrically breathtaking, ONCE draws you in from the very first note and never lets go. It’s an unforgettable story about going for your dreams and the power of music to connect us all.
ONCE, which was also named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards, ran for more than 1,100 performances on Broadway with acclaimed international productions from London and Melbourne to Japan and South Korea.
ONCE features the Academy Award®-winning music and lyrics of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, a book by award-winning Irish playwright & screenwriter, Enda Walsh (Penelope, Hunger, The New Electric Ballroom), direction by the acclaimed Scottish director of Black Watch, John Tiffany, movement by Steven Hoggett (Black Watch, American Idiot) and music supervision and orchestrations by Martin Lowe (Mamma Mia!). The set and costume design are by five time Tony® Award winner Bob Crowley (The Coast of Utopia, Mary Poppins), lighting design is by Tony® winner Natasha Katz (Aida, The Coast of Utopia), and sound design is by Clive Goodwin.
ONCE, the 2007 Academy Award®-winning film, was written and directed by John Carney, and starred Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, with original music and lyrics by Mr. Hansard and Ms. Irglová.
ONCE, The Oscar® -winning independent Irish film, was made for $150,000. Shot in 17 days, it went on to gross $20M worldwide becoming a critically acclaimed international smash. It stars Glen Hansard, from the popular Irish Rock band The Frames, and Markéta Irglová. Glen and Markéta won the 2007 Academy® Award for Best Original song for “Falling Slowly,” the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Music, and the soundtrack was nominated for two Grammy® Awards.
We program the series for adults and young people age 13 and older. Our policy is children under the age of 6 will not be permitted. Occasionally a particular production will include content that is generally not suitable for those under the age of 17. For the consideration of all patrons, children on laps and/or babes in arms are not permitted at Victoria Theatre Association Broadway presentations.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.
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