MUSICAL REVIEW: Once ★★★★★
Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon
Thursday 19th December 2019 - Saturday 11th January 2020
Elevated from the 2007 Oscar award-winning film, Once tells the beautiful and poetic tale of Guy (Daniel Healy) who one day suddenly meets Girl (Emma Lucia), are who are both fighting with their current relationships and the boundaries that are pushed between them. Thrown together with a love of music and a taste for adventure, they intertwine eachother into their own lives, meeting those desired to them, and decide to make an album in which they can forever cherish.
Embarking on a brand new tour for 2020, what Once captures so beautifully is the ability to take every expectation that you may impose and completely excel through the use of shear determination from the talents of the Actor/Musicians on stage, who give their heart and mind to a story so delicately told from all departments involved. Whilst Healy and Lucia truly have us in the palm of their hands throughout, with a love so pure between them, the ensemble around give a pulsation that can only be described as pure magic.
Dan Bottomley as Store Owner Billy will have you chuckling away at his misfortunes and sweet protection over Girl, whilst Peter Peverley will rip your heart away in the closing moments as he makes a gesture which sure had this audience in tears as Da, the father to Guy. Peter Rowe has effectively directed a production which soars through Edna Walsh's Book and flow through your veins to make the hairs stand upon the back of your neck and all over your body, with his clear attention to detail and subtlety within the background which does not go amiss. Mark Dymock homes in to centre on a lighting design that is effortless in containing the action, mostly using followspots to create an effect that will keep you up right in your seats and focused on the main attraction, whilst a beautiful moonlight scene between our two protagonists gives Peter Hazelwood's Projection a moment to truly shine.
The guiding light and soul of this production in relation to the whole cast could not be possible though without the music, penned by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, the original movie stars who won the accolade for 'Best Original Song' at the 80th Oscar Academy Awards in February 2008 for 'Falling Slowly'. The song will have you grinning from ear to ear, and hits an equal playing field along with the rest of the score, which includes the enchanting 'Leave' sung by Healy, and the harrowing, though compelling encore of 'Gold' in an acapella moment that had a beautiful silence filling the room following on from the rendition.
Overall, Once is a production which should be seen many more times than the title would think to suggest; from the atmospheric set and lighting design to the clear, crisp dialogue and vocals, everyone will find something to love no matter what the age, and have you falling in love with the beautiful acoustics.