t is always an experience to see a musical for the first time. Last night, the winner of eight Tony Awards ( 2013 and a Grammy Award for best Musical Album) opened in Chicago’s Oriental Theatre as part of this season’s Broadway In Chicago series. Based on the film ( same name) with a book by Enda Walsh and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova ( they also did the film) This is a story about individuals who are drawn together because of music, their love of music and despie all that has taken place in their sad lives, it is the music that allows them to keep going. They say that opportunity comes “Once” in a lifetime; that true love comes “once” in a lifetime; that a real friendship only comes around “once” and many other expressions that use the word “once”- in this beautiful story, two people, from different worlds- He , Guy played to perfection by Stuart Ward, an Irishman, she, Girl ( a solid performance by the very lovely Dani de Waal), a Czech immigrant living in Dublin meet and form a very solid relationship. It is about love, but a different type of love.
She has a daughter, and a husband, Guy, has recently had his heart broken as his girlfriend moved to the states. Each is a sort of guiding light to the other, what one might call an “angel” to lead the other back to reaching for the dreams that they once had. How do they do this? Through their music and although we feel that this is heading towards a romance, we find that it is far more than a romance as what they create for themselves and each other is something very special.
This is a very strong cast, all playing their own instruments on the stage and while there are some harder to understand lyrics due to the heavy accents ( brogues, you might say) the music is beautiful and at the same time helps deliver the story to us. Songs like “Leave”, “If You Want Me”,” Say It To Me Now”, “When Your Mind is Made Up” and the wonderful and meaningful “Falling Slowly”. There are dance numbers, and lots of movement although with the exception of The Girl’s daughter ( Kolette Tetlow) the cast maintains position on the stage, sitting on either side and from time to time, moving a piece of scenery, which by the way keeps the flow of action moving smoothly.
John Tiffany’s smooth direction is complimented by the movement direction of Steven Hoggett- these actors, large and small are as graceful as you might ever see on a stage where the performers are also playing musical instruments.Evan Harrington is a perfect example of a large man being light on his feet- his style and grace are amazing. This entire production is one that will bring a smile to your face and a warm feeling to your heart. As I said earlier, talent- music- dance- two hours of sheer elegance. I guess one would have to say that the ticket prices are the most negative part of the production. the main floor, best seats are in the $95 range, so dinner, parking and the show ( not to mention a baby sitter) makes for an expensive evening,BUT they do have seats for as low as $27 which in fact, makes this performance a bargain an dthe beauty of The Oriental is that one can see the stage from every seat and one can hear every song and lyric from the highest spot in the balcony.
“Once” will be here through October 27th with performances as follows:
Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m.
You can order tickets online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com or call the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 800-775-2000, or visit any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices.
The Oriental Theatre is located at 24 West Randolph Street ( between State and Dearborn) easy to get to by public transportation.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Once”