NY1 Theater Review: "Once"
The 2007 low-budget indie film "Once" is now a stage musical currently playing off-Broadway at The New York Theatre Workshop, and it was recently announced the show will reopen on Broadway in February. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following report.
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Fans who cherish the winsome love story may feel “Once” on film is enough. Then again, many will find in the stage adaptation a chance to relive the thrill.
Recreating the cultish film's unique charms for the theater poses quite a challenge. Fortunately, the show's producers put together the perfect creative team for this delicate project.
The film, a low-budget indie from Ireland, became an unlikely success featuring original songs written by its lead actors, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, playing characters named simply "Guy" and "Girl."
Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti star on stage, and like their counterparts, they are accomplished musicians who sing affectingly. They're also superb actors.
The story is simplistic. Set in Dublin, Guy is a street musician who meets a young Czech woman who also fancies herself a musician. There is an attraction but for various reasons, the love is unrequited while the music they create flourishes. The song entitled "Falling Slowly" won the 2007 Oscar.
The music is certainly haunting though it could be argued the songs serve as something of a gloss, lulling us into a reverie that obscures the thinness of the story. Still, the collaboration featuring book writer Enda Walsh, director John Tiffany, movement by Steven Hoggett and the entire company pulses with creative energy.
The audience is greeted on arrival by the actors, singing with their instruments onstage. The story is tighter now with expanded characterizations brilliantly acted and delightfully offbeat. And like the songs, the show unfolds organically, subtly building to a lovely and powerful crescendo of mood and emotion.
In the end, "Once" emerges as its own musical odyssey inspired by the film, but clearly a theatrical vision now in which music and musician enchantingly become one.