ONCE is like no musical we’ve ever seen. Upon entering the theater, you’re immediately greeted by a bustle of activity and music on-stage. What appears to be regular theater-goers are accepting drinks and mingling about as musicians jam in the setting of an Irish pub. Eventually the patrons make their way to their seats (turns out they truly are there to see the show) while the music continues and you wonder when exactly the show officially starts – or has it already? Then the house lights dim slowly as the pub lights come on and you’re whisked into the story.
Set in Dublin, ONCE tells the story of a musician ready to give up on his dream when a chance encounter with a woman changes his outlook and life path. Covering the span of a week’s time, we watch as the characters’ relationship develops and deepens despite the obstacles standing in their way (for him, a lost love in New York; for her, an estranged husband in the Czech republic).
The cast is made up of a dozen incredibly talented performers, with each member playing instruments on stage including the piano, guitar, violin, cello and even accordion. Percussion comes in the form of stomping, clapping and the drumming of wooden boxes. Choreography is less dancing than it is carefully thought-out movements that complement the story.
Entirely un-flashy, it is the quiet reserve of the storytelling that draws and keeps your attention until the lights come up for intermission, and make you count the minutes until they dim once again.
The performance is raw with emotion, perfectly conveying the angst and longing of the main characters for which you root so hard to find happiness together.
A winner of 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical in 2012, ONCE is not one you’ll want to miss. The show runs through April 6th and tickets are still available. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.hennepintheatretrust.org/events/once-musical-orpheum-theatre-2014. You’ll be glad you did.