I admit I was late to the game in seeing Once – the Musical since it’s closing just after the new year. The play is based on the movie which is based on Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s friendship. I loved the movie and didn’t want the play to corrupt my memory of it. But when free tickets became available through a papering service I took the chance and was pleasantly surprised.
Most of the large cast is on stage playing music at a pub while the audience is being seated, with each musician trying to out-perform the next. This immediately sets the upbeat tone for the show. The story is similar to that of the movie, but doesn’t try to replicate it. The Guy, an Irishman, is a struggling musician who is suffering from a failed love affair. He’s decides to give up music to help his father repair vacuums. He meets The Girl, a Czech, who needs a vacuum repaired and happens to also play music. (She also has her own share of love trouble). When she hears The Guy playing a love song that she thinks is remarkable, she makes it her mission to help him succeed as a musician. The show revolves around the songs written by Hansard and Irglova and are played and sung by the all the actors.
The cast, who stays on-stage throughout the play, is multi-talented and can multi-task. They’re actors, musicians and serve as the show’s stagehands between scenes. It’s brought to life by John Tiffany’s clever directing – not a beat is missed or wasted – and this makes Once – the Musical thoroughly entertaining. LAR
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre 242 West 45th Street
Ticket prices: $49-$142
Discounts: Theatermania.com & Broadwaybox.com ($49-$89.50), TKTS, Play-by-Play.com (on occasion)
Runs thru: January 4, 2015
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, with one intermission