Once, a Musical

Once is a new musical from the film of the same name that has been a big success on Broadway and is now coming to the Phoenix Theatre in London where Blood Bloothers ran for years until very recently. The interesting thing about Once the film, is that the actors who play the lead roles are also musicians who play the instruments and wrote the songs which feature in the film. This is possible because it’s a story about two musicians, male and female, who meet on the streets of Dublin. It’s an exciting prospect for me because one of the main characters is a busker, singing and playing guitar in the street. I was a full time busker myself for a couple of years when I first left home, not in Dublin but in Paris, and it’s with great anticipation and just a little apprehension that I await an early performance of Once in London.

Once a Busker meets a Girl

The plot begin when a woman stops to listen to the busker, then later it transpires that she is a musician too, and a complicated relationship unfolds. In due course they start writing songs for each other, and this is what makes the musical special. Remembering back to my own days, it is certainly true that sometimes people stop and listen to a few songs. Usually they just leave a contribution (or not) and carry on without saying anything, perhaps a grin or nod of the head, but sometimes they would want to say something or ask a question. The worst ones just take a photograph, which seems kind of rude, like they’re looking on and not taking part in the scene at all. So I had many encounters with strangers like that, some of which turned into friendships and not all of which were female as it happens. A french guy called Guy seemed to like what he heard and then out of the blue offered to buy me a beer at just the right time. I would have turned down most offers like that while I was working, but we ended up meeting up for a beer or a meal now and again over the months, and went on expeditions all over Paris and to Poitiers as well. He let me stay in his apartment when I was couch surfing for a short period, and when he went on a solo trip around England on a moped, dropped in on my parents house after I wrote and told them to expect a strange frenchman! After a few more moves of mine, we lost touch, like so many.

Other people who stopped and struck up conversation with me down in the metro would seldom lead to such lasting friendship, more often than not there were wild goose chases involved as people seemed to feel obliged to offer something that usually never materialises, I learned at quite a young age.

The Music – Acoustic originals

Anyway, back to this musical of a film, Once. Whoever is performing in the stage show is probably going to have to be a guitar player as well as a singer, actor and everything else, but what kind of genre are the songs in the show? You might want to know if it’s blues, folk, pop or musical theatre in genre before you decide to go and see the musical.

Once London

Once London

How much will the stage show differ from the film, musically, I wonder? There are some clues at least perhaps in the style of the publicity graphics for Once, depicting the machine head, tuning pegs and string ends of an acoustic guitar,1 ¬†drawn in a folky kind of style. So we can be fairly optimistic that there will be at least some acoustic guitar music involved, even if there is orchestral accompaniment – I’m not sure if there is or not – the Broadway version I think had quite a small cast. And being set in Dublin, you might expect an Irish flavour to the songs – but apart from that I’ll have to wait until there is some footage from the London version of Once online to watch as a preview, or until March 2013 when it opens in the Phoenix theatre Charing Cross, just down the road from We Will Rock You.

Once London: Broadway clips

Right I’ve seen the Broadway opening night youtube now and it looks like the ensemble are all musicians too, playing acoustic guitars, fiddle and accordion so a bit more like a wild night in an Irish music pub, or the 3rd class passengers of the Titanic having a party in that other film. Bring it on!

  1. sponsored by Martin Guitars []
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