Monday, June 29, 2015

"Once" Worth Revisiting

One of Broadway's most compelling love stories returns to the State Theater

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theater Trust
It's always nice to have too much of a good thing.

A perfect example of this is Once, which is in the middle of a return tour to Minneapolis. It's a beautiful show, and it retains all (if not more) of its charm the second time around.

Once is based on the movie of the same name, an Oscar winning story of almost-requited love. A Guy and a Girl, both facing hardships in their own lives, come together to record an album and help each other heal from their past wounds. While they don't quite move forward in a future together, they do make progress with their emotional lives, and each leaves the relationship with something beautiful to learn from and treasure in the future.

Most of the cast from previous tours is returning here, and they haven't lost anything over time. Musical standouts include the ethereal "If You Want Me," raucously fun "Ej, Pada, Pada, Rosicka," and a gorgeous a capella rendition of "Gold" from the ensemble. The entire ensemble is strong, playing instruments themselves (there is no pit orchestra for Once) as they sing and dance. It's a lot harder than it looks, and they do an amazing job.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theater Trust
It is worth mentioning that leads Stuart Ward (Guy) and Dani de Waal (Girl) seem to find this material as fresh as their first performance. Both have kick ass voices that never waver, and their unrequited yearning for each other is evident in every breath they display on stage. It's a rare chemistry, and carries the show to believability.

The innovative choreography and set use remains here as well, incorporating a vertically split stage and the heavy use of mirrors. It's a subtle element, but a special one; the mirrors lend a multi-camera perspective to the audience, allowing new views of the performers faces and instrument-playing, giving a feel of being "inside" the action. It's easy to overlook, but pay attention: the mixed perspective is really worth it.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theater Trust
Once is such a refreshing love story, avoiding the stereotypical happy ending for a more realistic, if brokenhearted, view of relationships. The gorgeous soundtrack and this solidly awesome cast are always worth revisiting. If you go, make sure you get in line to stand on stage before the show and grab a beer. It's an unusual chance to see a set up close firsthand, and the instruments each character plays.

For more information and for tickets, please click this link.