Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Once is NOT Enough

There have been so many movies turned into Broadway musicals the past several years. Producers and creative teams feel they have a ready-made audience if people come in knowing the story. For the most part, they stay fairly close to the movie (sometimes copying the actors) and at times feel as if they have been put through the 'movie-to-musical' machine.

And then there is Once.

Before I say anything more, let me admit that I had no desire to see this show. When I received the postcard for discount seats (before it opened) I threw it out. I didn't think it would speak to me. What a fool I am.

As an indie artist, I should have been all over this show the moment it was slated to open. It speaks to the soul of the 'indie' attempting to make something of their art so that people can hear it, see it, feel it.

The website for the show says:

"once is the celebrated new musical based on the Academy Award®-winning film. It tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, their unexpected friendship and collaborationevolves into a powerful but complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together. Brought to the stage by an award-winning team of visionary artists and featuring an ensemble cast of gifted actor/musiciansonce is a musical celebration of life and love: thrilling in its originality, daring in its honesty... and unforgettable in every way."

I've been thinking 'how does one describe this show?' At times, it feels like a play with music as it doesn't follow the standard musical theater format (that was banged in my head when I was in the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop). The cast is the band. Each moment of chair, table, body-part is choreographed in a stylized way you just have to see. It even starts with audience members drinking on the stage while the cast plays music and then it just sort of 'starts' out of nowhere...pulling us into the world in a slow way where we almost forget we're watching a show.

But it is the story that grabs you instantly. A romance that grows out of an organic place unlike what we've witnessed in other musicals. And it is the Tony nominated performances of Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti that make this show so special (along with a stellar ensemble that are so in sync with each other - they make the audience feel a part of it all). I was about five rows back and could feel every breath the leads took. The angst in their bodies. The power in their longing. It - in a word - was beautiful. A show where tears roll down your face and you don't even reach up to remove them. Heartbreaking in how underplayed it is compared to the big musicals that take New York by storm. 

I'm not sure what more I could say about this show except don't be an idiot like me. If you are in the New York area, you must see this show...at least once. I plan on going back again.


  1. I have no words to accurately describe the beauty of this theatrical experience. STUNNING and SPECTACULAR is the best I can do!!

    1. I had the same problem: finding the words is really difficult.