Based on the 2005 film of the same name Broadway’s interpretation of Once took the state of the Winspear Opera house this week for a Christmas Run. The music of Once has won a Grammy, Tony, Olivier and Academy Award and here the music is the real star of the show, aided very nicely by the rich voices of Stuart Ward as Guy and Dani De Waal as Girl.
The show takes place in an Irish pub where the audience is a part of the show before the show where much of the cast is on stage in character singing and dancing to traditional Irish music. Audience members are encouraged to make their way onto the stage and become a part of the action, drinks in hand which makes an early arrival into the theater a must.
The pubs walls are covered in mirrors of various shapes and sizes sending a clear message, there will be nowhere to hide, you will be forced to examine yourself here, like it or not. The story is of a vacuum cleaner repairman (Guy) who is actually quite an amazing singer/songwriter who has given up on his dream when he meets Girl (that is her name) who is determined he will not give up on his dreams.
Once is the classic guy meets girl, falls for girl, there is an obstacle to overcome but the audience roots for the couple story. The challenge here is that the connection between Guy and Girl here never lives up to the brilliance of the music. The connection between the two feels forced, I found myself rooting for the next song, not the couple. The quality of the musicians, the voices of the cast make the show worth seeing but I would opt for the cast recording available here…Once Original Broadway Cast Recording.
Once the movie is a brilliant story and for die-hard fans this show is definitely something you will not want to miss, the chance to see the story come to life, to enjoy a drink on stage with the cast before curtain. But for the average theater goer with no connection to the movie I think this show will leave you disappointed.
Stuart Ward as guy is the real stand out here. His rich voice and bold stage presence were the best part of this show for me. Dani De Waal as Girl was the real disconnect for me. I never felt her love for Guy even as she is using all her might to make sure his dream is achieved. While a talented singer, I did not find her a good match for Ward.
Use the money saved to see one of the amazing shows coming to the Dallas/Fort Worth Area in the coming month like the brilliantly fun Blue Man Group or Book of Mormon, Broadway as interpreted by the creators of South Park and the Creator of Avenue Q both headed to the Winspear Opera House.
Once plays the Winspear Opera house through December 28th and Fort Worth’s Bass Hall February 18-22, Austin’s Bass Hall February 24th-March 1st, San Antonio’s Majestic Theater March 3rd-8th, and Houston’s Hobby Center March 10th-15th.
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