I feel a kinship with the musical Once, because in a former life I did my own share of street-busking, like the bluejeaned lead in the 2007 film. It’s a simple, poignant tale that’s both heartrending and uplifting, filled with simple, tuneful songs that strike the same balance.
The stage version, which won a double-handful of the 2012 Tony awards, including Best Musical, plays a one-night stand at the UMass Fine Arts Center on Thursday, December 1st. It’s an unlikely Broadway hit – not a big, boisterous song-and dance show, but compact and laid-back, song-rich and dance-light.
Irish playwright Enda Walsh’s adaptation condenses the film’s sidewalks, shops and flats into a single setting: an Irish pub, where (and in my experience, this is often true) all the regulars are also musicians. They include the two central characters, called only Guy and Girl, played here by Sam Cieri and Mackenzie Lesser-Roy. He’s a broody Dublin guitar-picker on the verge of chucking his musical dreams, she’s the gutsy Czech pianist with whom he ultimately achieves them.
If the musical focuses the film, it also amplifies it, adding a few songs to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s original score. At every performance, the cast-cum-band has a singaround on the set during the half hour before the show starts. During that time, a limited number of patrons can join them at the onstage bar – first come, first served, cash only, with, I assume, Guinness on tap.
Photos by Joan Marcus
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