A refreshingly different type of musical has stopped in Philadelphia at the Academy of Music -- the Tony Award winning musical, Once. Based on the 2007 Irish film of the same title, it’s a bittersweet story of two down and out musicians who come together for a brief time. Through creating music together, they change each other’s lives.
The twelve members of the cast play at least one instrument (if not more) and remain onstage throughout the show. Each actor/musician has a distinct character and plays a part in the love story that evolves between the two main characters, Guy and Girl. The lyrical music is Folk/Pop with one foot in the Irish tradition, and the song, Falling Slowly has become a hit on the radio.
Originally developed at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2011, the show became such a success that there is now a London production along with the U. S. Natinal Tour.
Dani de Waal is completely charming as Girl, a Czech immigrant who is “always serious, because she is Czech.” She plays expressive piano, while singing in a pure, soprano voice. Stuart Ward wins us over with his passionate vocals and splendid acoustic guitar strumming. Benjamin Magnuson is very funny as the Bank Manager who plays a lovely cello. Donna Garner is comically dour as Baruska, Girl’s mother who plays the concertina and accordian. Matt DeAngelis as Svec and Alex Nee as Andrej are both terrific as members of the Czech contingent.
Be prepared that at the start of the proceedings there is “pre-show” entertainment. Cast members appear onstage playing Irish tunes while the audience gets to come up onstage and buy a drink at “the Pub”. If you are tired of shows with blaring electronic scores and screaming vocals – this is the show for you. All the music is created by the actor/musicians onstage and most of it is acoustic and quite lovely.
For tickets call 215-893-1999 or go online at www.kimmelcenter.org/broadway.
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