Once is a show that is not your usual musical where people burst into song and dance. I would say it’s more of a play with music, and where the performers double as the orchestra. The show is not for everyone, especially those who thinks this is a conventional musical but it is still a great theatre experience that concentrates on the characters, story, and the songs rather than spectacle.
Coming in, we were greeted by the pre-show with the cast playing onstage while the audience are milling about on the set, used as a bar where you can get your drinks before the show and during intermission. Unfortunately, we got there 10 minutes before the show was about to start and they did cut offs already.
The performers continued on with the pre show while the audience on stage were shown their way down. A few numbers after, I noticed the house lights were still on so I wasn’t sure if the show had already begun. It only dimmed by the middle of “Leave”, while Girl (the lead’s character’s names are Girl and Guy) was making her entrance form the back of the theatre, and that’s when I realized that the show had indeed begun (and that the lights will be off for the rest of the show).
What I didn’t expect from this show is its humour. There were a lot of punch lines and quips that kept everyone’s attention, especially Dani De Waal’s portrayal of Girl. Matt Deangelis, and Evan Harrington, whose comical timing gave the audience a treat. The supporting characters were as equally interesting and when they go into music mode with choreography, it will really impress.
The show’s humour is a stark contrast from the songs, which were more of a soothing, folksy sound. At times, the audio was low and I had to struggle to make out what the lyrics were, but I believe its more of a technical glitch rather than the player. And by the way, the pre-show numbers should have been included in the cast recording because they were just really catchy.
Set-wise, it’s really basic with the bar serving as the main set. Different scenes are set up using props manually brought by the performers I don’t even remember is there was any sets brought on stage mechanically. Grand scale it is not, however, the players effectively guided the audience on where they are actually at.
I truly appreciated the approach this show did as it set it apart from the other movie-turned-musical-show who relies on the movie’s popularity and basically just re-creates the screenplay onto the stage.
After the show, some of the cast were gracious enough to do a meet and greet.
Dani De Waal who played Girl; photobomb alert
Matt DeAngelis (Svec) and Erica Swindell (Ex-Girlfriend; one of the four nameless characters, the other being Emcee)
Kolette Tetlow who played the Girl’s daughter, Ivanka
Dani was nice enough to let everyone know that the rest of the cast were in rehearsals inside the theatre for a benefit show they are doing the following day so there was a chance that nobody else will be coming out, just so no one would be waiting long for possibly nothing.