Tuesday 24 February 2015

30 Things By 30: Once – The Musical

The first time I had even heard of Once was during the 2008 Oscars when "Falling Slowly" was preformed. It ended up winning best song that night and for some reason the song just stuck with me. The lyrics and music were poignant in some way and I was instantly drawn to the song. While I never ended up seeing the movie (I do plan on it at some point) it became one of my favorite songs.  

A few years later during the 2012 Tony Awards – and I believe during the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade - I watched the song be preformed once again on TV. This time I was able to see the performance staging/acting of it as it was now a Broadway musical and the song became even more memorable. It was then that I realized I MUST see this show. I was also drawn to the stage version because it’s not common for films to be adapted into productions – traditionally it’s the opposite way around with musicals being adapted into movies – Chicago, Phantom of the Opera etc. (However I have realized that this seems to be a new trend as in the last few years shows have been adapted from Legally Blonde, Bring it On, Matilda etc… so maybe tradition is shifting).

I planned on seeing Once in NYC at some point but never got a chance to visit since it opened. The last time I was in the area I was in NJ with mom and hoped for a chance to make it into the city but we didn’t. The show came into Toronto a few years later but the timing didn’t work out so I once again missed it. Finally it was announced it was coming back and I was set on finally making my dream a reality and seeing it at last. For my birthday Brian surprised me with tickets and I was thrilled to finally get a chance to be seeing this said-to-be incredible musical.

Our tickets were for a Saturday afternoon showing on a day which ended up being incredibly snowy and icy. I had plans to take Paige pottery painting in the morning but had to leave the pottery studio early so that we have enough time to get downtown (Amanda an her cousin were there as well, so I didn’t completely abandon her!). About 10 minutes into the drive the car was slipping and sliding so Brian and I opted to take the GO Train into Toronto instead. By the time we caught the train and then took the subway up to the theater it was about 20 minutes to show time.

Our seats were incredible – on the aisle only 6 rows away from the stage! You could see everything clearly and with perfect detail. When we first sat down I was confused because there were people walking around on the stage with musicians playing some Irish songs. I soon realized that there was an on-stage bar set up and that audience members were able to walk up, look around, get a drink and listen to the music. Brian and I opted to stay in our seats and just enjoy the music from where we were. The stage was set up to look like an Irish pub and with the musicians playing it not only looked like it, but really felt like it as well. I was transported back to my Ireland trip and felt like I was in the same small local pub environment – despite being in such a large theater. 

When the show started the musicians – who were also some of the actors - just sat on chairs off to the side until they were needed to preform or play. There was no large orchestra or any large props/staging. Just the actors with their instruments off the side and the main set which was used for the entire show. They would bring in any key components as needed but even then it was kept simple – a piano, some tables, a vacuum and so on.  

The show was amazing – truly it was everything I thought it would be. The acting, singing and music were incredible. I felt like I was in Ireland and felt like I was really seeing a love story of people, not characters. Mirvish did a wonderful job with this show and it’s one of the best and most enjoyable ones I have seen in awhile. During the intermission I did chose to walk up to the stage and look around the set which was a really cool experience. I loved getting the chance to look out into the audience and see what the actors see each night (it brought me back to my childhood dreams of being an actress!) It was also interesting to see some of the props – which were very simple – up close. It really looked like all of the Irish pubs I visited and had a very inviting and comfortable feel to it.

The overall result of everything – the staging, props, set, actors, costumes, music – had a different effect then the typical musicals I have seen recently (ie – Wicked, Book of Mormon) I felt like I was sitting in a pub and not a theater. I could feel the emotion and truly felt as if I was part of the story in someway.

I absolutely loved this show and completely recommend seeing it if you have the chance!