The story of two people lost; Guy, a bruised and broken-hearted Irishman, and Girl, a feisty and determined Czech immigrant, who find themselves and each other in this romantic and tender love story.
Enter Guy, a rather good-looking, yet brooding lad from Dublin, recently dumped by his girlfriend, playing guitar and singing through his pain with fellow musicians at the local Irish pub. Enter Girl, ethereal and angelic looking, uncertain of her own relationship status, armed with her Hoover vacuum, no-nonsense attitude, and unconsciously quick wit.
As Guy is about to walk away and give up on his music, Girl steps in and refuses to let him quit. She tells him it would be a terrible waste if his beautiful songs were not heard. So touched by his music, she makes it her mission to help him do just that. They make a deal. He fixes her vacuum which does not suck, and she will repay him by helping him make his music. As the story develops, we watch the two come together through their mutual love and passion for music. Through the music, they are transformed, and healed. Girl helps Guy to find his voice, but does so while hiding her own.
In an absolutely spellbinding scene, Guy asks Girl if she still loves her husband, but her reply, neither yes or no, is in Czech. The audience knows her response, as there is a translation above the stage, but Guy does not. In this painfully exquisite moment, you ache for them both as you try to catch your breath, and brush away the tears that have slowly cascaded down your face. If there are any perfect moments in theatre, this is surely one of them.
Here are Romeo and Juliet reincarnate.
Steve Kazee, is both charming and irresistible as Guy. His voice has such a beautiful, soulful quality that helps in revealing his character’s vulnerability. After seeing him perform, there is no doubt in your mind that anyone else should have taken home the Tony.
Cristin Milioti is captivating, and hypnotic as Girl. She is so spot on with her Czech accent, that you hardly believe she is really an American. Milioti also adds a certain innocence to her character, which adds to her likability. Kazee and Milioti both deliver flawless performances. The chemistry between the two is instant, and everyone around them feels it. The couple are mesmerizing on stage portraying their characters with incredible depth and insight. To say it was their fate to play these characters would not be an understatement.
Based on the 2007 Indie hit film by Jim Carney, playwright Enda Walsh has brilliantly adapted the screenplay to fit the stage, and has turned “Once” into a rare, magical piece of poetry, earning him the 2012 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. Also included in the play is that beautifully haunting melody from the movie,”Falling Slowly,” which won the Oscar for Best Original Song.
The multi-talented ensemble cast are not only actors, but also serve as the show’s orchestra, which only help to enhance the setting and atmosphere of this poignant tale. Director John Tiffany has created a masterpiece that is simply, a celebration of life and love, set to beautiful music, while scenic designer Bob Crowley brings Dublin to life, right here in New York, with his massive recreation of an Irish pub.
Whether it was Tiffany or Crowley’s idea, the Dublin pub also functions as a real bar. Prior to the show, the musicians are onstage jamming as the audience can go up to the stage and get a pint at the bar. It is just one of the many things that makes it warm and inviting from the beginning.
In just 90 minutes, Once takes us on a magical journey and reveals to us what true love is; what it is to love someone so much, that your only goal is to see them happy, even if you are not ultimately a part of that. The show is pure at heart, and its ability to connect with audiences is truly amazing. Do not miss out on a truly unforgettable experience.