Don Reviews "Once: The Musical"
For years, I have talked on our show about how the musical “Once” has set the bar for every production I have seen since. (Pun intended.) Since then, I have also often wondered if I would ever get the chance to see it again, and with a short weekend run at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas, I went in wondering how it would measure up to the memories and expectations I had in my head from our previous time seeing it.
Based on the 2007 film that won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, the story is set in Dublin with “Guy” (Jack Gerhard) and “Girl” (Mariah Lotz), who meet outside a shopping center as Guy is playing his guitar for what he feels is the last time. Girl convinces him to stay with it and ends up being his collaborator for a magical few days that may lead to more than just a friendship.
Just like the first time I saw this, the set is simply an Irish pub with chairs on both sides of the stage for the cast members who are not performing at a given moment. Everyone is involved as the transitions happen from scene to scene with certain props, but the pub never changes. The work there along with the lighting really enhanced both the mood and the story as it unfolded. The cast here is good, with both Gerhard and Lotz doing a great job with very good chemistry that really convinced me of the feelings that Guy and Girl had for each other. Add to that their musical talents (the cast is also the band for the entire show), and they were simply spot-on.
Overall, I was blown away like I was before. There is so much more heart to this show than others that I have seen, with wonderful songs and a story that is not just a mindless journey that serves as a vessel to get the audience from song to song. And when “Falling Slowly” hits, if there are no emotions that come over you, it is possible that you have no soul. Now, that does not mean that I liked it more than I did the first time around, and that is probably because my expectations were a lot higher due to knowing what I was getting into. That being said, this show is still incredible, and if you get the opportunity to see “Once” when it comes near you, go see it no matter what!