by Anna Schaeffer
“Before seeing Once, I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’d never seen the production or the movie. When I walked into the theatre, I was shocked to see the audience up on stage, buying drinks right from the bar on the set! Right away, I knew this wasn’t going to be your typical Broadway show.
First, a little back story. The show focuses on two main characters, only referred to in the program as Guy and Girl. (I thought the lack of formal names gave the story a universal relatability.) Each is reeling from a bad breakup when they meet at a local pub where Guy is performing. Girl feels the heartbreak in his songs, and makes it her mission to help him win back his ex-girlfriend. When they begin to play some of his songs together, they realize their combined talents make beautiful music. Girl convinces Guy they should record a demo to mail to his ex-girlfriend, and the story progresses from there…
Once is unique for many reasons. For starters, there is no pit orchestra – actually, there’s no orchestra at all! Not only does the cast act, sing, and dance, but they also play multiple other instruments while doing so, all without missing a beat. It was truly impressive, and something I have never seen before.
The storyline of Once is also something unique to Broadway. It’s not predictable. It’s not a classic love story, it’s not anything you would image it would be. It feels like a real story with real people, not something that would “only happen in a Broadway show.” It deals with real heartache, loss, passion, pain, and moving on, and the cast was brilliant at making the audience feel each and every one of these emotions. During one particular scene (I won’t give anything away!), the audience was so captivated; you could hear the cast breathing!
Even with all of these amazing elements, the show’s best quality is definitely the music. Again, not your typical Broadway show tunes! The most recognizable song from the production is “Falling Slowly,” the first song performed by Guy and Girl together. When Girl came in with the harmony, I had chills that did not go away until the end of the song. It’s refreshing to experience such a reaction from a song that is beautiful in its simplicity and effortlessness. Although, one of the most moving performances in the show comes in Act II, during “The Hill”, a song which Girl sings alone at the piano. I can only describe it as heart-wrenchingly beautiful.
Overall, the show is nothing I expected it to be (in the best way possible). It’s unique, refreshing, and simply beautiful, and I am counting down the days until I can see it again!”
Once will be at the Palace Theatre June 9-14. Tickets go on sale March 12.