Maybe it’s because I am getting a little bit older, but the phrase “all the feels” keeps tending to come up when I review things lately. Whether it is a documentary about a beloved childhood icon or just a well-told love story that stands the test of time, these kinds of experiences have almost become cathartic to me in a way. When I start welling up a bit, there is a feeling of calm and easiness that seems to follow it, and when it is a story that I know, that familiarity is like hanging out with an old friend I don’t get to see often enough.
With “Once,” the hit 2007 film that won the Oscar for Best Original Song, the story of young star-crossed lovers without the warring family subplot, I just cannot seem to get enough, and it has come back through Dallas for a short run at the Winspear Opera house. We got to see it a few years ago, and for me, it was just as enjoyable as it was the first time. With a stage set up as an Irish pub (that is actually a cash bar before the production begins and during its intermission), two characters whose names are never revealed meet on the streets of Dublin as “Guy” (Jack Gerhard) and “Girl” (Mariah Lotz) find a mutual love of music opens a door to what could be so much more.
This cast is also the show’s musical talent as they tell this story, and watching them not only handle their dialogue but also play AND handle choreography all at this same time is nothing short of fascinating. A strong supporting cast highlighted by John Patrick Penick as Billy, the music shop owner where Girl works, and a strong turn by both Richard Daniel as Guy’s father and Tracy Thomas as Baruska, Girl’s mother, made this that much more enjoyable. Their work in the transitions due to the fact that there is no set pieces outside of the pub is as smooth as the glasses that sit behind the bar as the scenes are delivered extremely convincingly.
If there is a downside for me with “Once,” it is simply that it is not going to be in our town for longer than a weekend. This works incredibly well independently of its source material, so don’t think that watching the film is simply good enough. If this production comes anywhere near where you are, go and check it out; you may discover love all over again.