Once the musical is a great choice for theatre breaks, a feel good high energy show with a tender, touching story. It tells the tale of two lovers from very different background who communicate with each other through their shared passion for music and song writing. The story is set mainly in the Dublin pub where they sing, play, and socialise. The tale follows the couple, who meet whilst he is busking on the streets of Dublin, through just one week, right at the start of their possible relationship. That is important, because we are never sure if this relationship will come to anything and we are soon totally swept up in wanting them to give it a chance.
Will They – Won’t They?
He is an Irish busker and she is a Czech immigrant who stops to talk to him one day when she sees him busking. It soon becomes clear that she too is a musician and they start a friendship which we as an audience get caught up in hoping will develop into something more romantic. It is not easy though as she is going through a marriage break-up and has a toddler while he is still writing songs about his ex-girlfriend who has moved away to London. At first they are just friends but slowly their songs start to say the things they will not or cannot say to each other.
It is a touching and romantic story but Once is not just about them. The show is set in a traditional Irish pub it has the feel of a ceilidh with the alcohol, laughter and music flowing. It becomes a celebration of that spirit and the warmth of that Irish pub gives us all a warm glow.
There is plenty of high energy Irish folk music, and dancing too, though don’t expect Riverdance! This is rawer and more real.
You can get a feel of the lively nature of the show from this video:
Listen to The Music
The music is totally central to this show and the London version is a little different to the Broadway one. It definitely has a rawer, folkier feel and is all the better for that.
The production have recently released an EP of some of the tracks from the show which you can here via Soundcloud or Spotify and buy through iTune. Then again, you could just listen to it here:
Once Theatre Breaks – perfect for couples
I think Once will make a lovely choice for a theatre break. It should work well for couples of any ages as everyone loves a love story and a touch of the Irish. It would also be a good choice for any kind of celebration break as it is such a lively, feel good show. It is not the sort of show where you will know all the songs straight away or be able to revel in nostalgia. If that is what you want the West end has plenty of other shows to meet your needs. Once is more for someone who wants something a bit quirky and unusual, or those of us who loved the old singer songwriters and enjoy a bit of folk music and of course the craic.
The Phoenix Theatre is a perfect setting for the show as it is fairly intimate and the set captures the atmosphere of the Irish pub really well. I hope the show will run as long as the other Phoenix favourite Blood Brothers and I think there is a good chance that it will.