Once (the Musical)

On Saturday night we had a fun evening out at the Broadway Musical “Once”. I have been racking my brain as to how I feel about the performance. I have never seen anything like it before which I guess is a good thing. I think the summary statement is that it felt so young and made me feel so old (I’m 38 – you can decide how old or young that is).

For starters, there is a very short distance between the front door and the middle of the actual theater seats.  What I mean by that is that once you enter the first theater doors from the outside, it is a couple of feet to the ticket taker and then you step through a door right into the middle of the seating area. It is somewhat disconcerting, especially since during the pre-curtain seating time there is a lot of confusion going on onstage; the musicians seem to be improvising in role, playing instruments in a bawdy fashion, and singing. I’m used to getting to ease in, look around, admire the scenery, see where the bar and bathrooms are etc. That’s a neg on the theater though, not the show (Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre).

When we finally did get to our seats they weren’t so great, up in the mezzanine. The usher was one of those people that takes their job extremely seriously, at times yelling at patrons that make a misstep. “No photos!” The upside was that we did have a star sighting: Bruce Springsteen was enjoying the show two rows ahead of us! That made things more fun somehow.

The show has a somewhat abrupt start. After singing a song, the main character “Guy” plans to abandon his singing/songwriting career until he is stopped by the heroine “Girl” and hence their friendship begins as she convinces him to fix her Hoover vacuum cleaner. She is a waify young Czech mother and he is a handsome Irish hunk that sings and writes songs while fixing vacuums with his dad. She helps him make a demo so that he can move to NY and become famous.  Feelings happen along the way….

My least favorite thing about the show was the script.  The lines written for “Girl” are really corny. There are a bunch of one-liners that are supposed to be jokes, but which I found to be irritating rather than funny. People did laugh at them, though, amazingly. I am perplexed as to why…

To me, the music and overall musicianship was the highlight of the show. Each cast member (there are not actually that many) plays more than one instrument and sings. I was really impressed by all the casts’ musical talents. I used to play the violin myself and they all seemed to do so well what I found to be the most difficult aspect of performing: improvisation and responding to each other freely with their instruments.  The music itself was also quite good. Everyone loves the one tune “Falling Slowly” but there are other good songs as well.

Link to Falling slowly video on YouTube

The movements/choreography were also really interesting. The cast doubles as the pit band so there is a lot of moving in and out of the scene to the sidelines by the ancillary characters/musicians. They all do this in very clever ways.

The show won numerous Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Orchestration, among others.

List of awards

I am somewhat new to the Broadway theater scene.  Most of the shows that I’ve seen so far have been pretty traditional: Annie, West Side Story, A Chorus Line, Nice Work if You Can Get It.  ‘Once’ is not like any of those.

I do think you should see it.  I’ve decided now; I liked it.  Enjoy!