Once the Musical Comes Home to Dublin

Declan Bennett and Zrinka Cvitešić

By Michelle Meagher, Editorial Assistant
February 27, 2013

Award winning film turned Tony-award winning musical, Once took center stage February 22 at the Gaiety Theater in Dublin for its European Premiere.

For Glen Hansard, actor and singer/songwriter in the Oscar-winning 2006 Irish Film Once, the films success came as a complete shock but surprising is the even higher acclaim it has received as a Broadway production.  “I would have never said that I would make a music film with my friend John Carney and my friend Marketa Irglova and it would win an Academy Award and then become a stage musical on Broadway.”  He explained bewilderedly in an interview with the Irish Voice. The fact is, Once directed by John Tiffany with a script written by award-winning Irish playwright and screenwriter, Enda Walsh and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, has surpassed the original film’s success with an astounding eight Tony Awards on Broadway and a Grammy for best musical theatrical album.  The show’s original leading roles are played by Steve Kazee as ‘Guy’ and Cristin Milioti as ‘Girl’.

When it debut in New York on February 28, 2012, theater critic Elisabeth Vincentelli from the NY Post gave it three and half stars out of four saying it won over audiences, and not for all the typical Broadway reasons.  This show lacked flashy effects, a well-known cast and big stage numbers; nonetheless, it charmed audiences “the old fashioned way: with a love story, great songs, compelling characters and inventive stagecraft,” Vincentelli described.

Once is classic tale of lonely boy meets lonely girl, and they fall in love – a complicated love.  However, in this spin on a classic love story, it is not only their loneliness but their love of music and the music they make together which brings them together.  Guy, a broken-hearted vacuum repair man meets Girl, a Czech pianist who encourages him to follow his musical dreams.  They both have complicated pasts and unknown futures and in this uncertainty and sadness they find kindred spirits within one another. And this musical love story which spellbound audiences in New York has just arrived in Dublin for its European Premiere.  The show premiered on February 22, 2013 at the Gaiety Theater in Dublin with audience members including former James Bond Pierce Brosnan, President Michael D. Higgins who originally saw the production in New York and Glen Hansard himself.  Hansard describe seeing his character and his own songs portrayed by someone else as “surreal” in an interview with the Irish Times and was “delighted” to be able to attend the first showing.  The President was also warmed by the performance and told the Irish Times, “It is a poignant movie story. It is one that deals with the contradiction in all of our lives. It is particularly wonderful to see a fundamental story of love and relationships, disappointment and joy put into the heart of the migrant experience.”

Enda Walsh has outdone himself in the Dublin production of the show as producer Michael Rose praised him for having done a “most magnificent job” including improving upon the original.  Rose went on to tell the Irish Times, “It’s more moving, it’s funnier, it gives you greater insight into the people of Dublin. It is one of the most rollercoaster rides in the theatre you could possibly have.” The shows success can also be attributed to its cast which is led by English actor and singer Declan Bennet and Croatian actress Zrinka Cvitešić as Guy and Girl and includes:
Baruska: Vlada Aviks
Svec: Ryan Fletcher
Billy: Aidan Kelly
Eamon: Gareth O’Connor
Da: Michael O’Connor
Ex girlfriend/1st cover Reza: Miria Parvin
Andre: Jos Solvick
Reza: Flora Spencer-Longhurst
Bank Manager: Jez Unwin
Emcee: Gabriel Vick
Ivanka: Poppy-Lily Baker or Mia-Jai Bryan

Once continues in London for a pre-release on March 16 before the official opening day on April 9, 2013 at the Phoenix Theater.

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