See “Once” once

Once's Musical poster and playbill cover graphic (Image source:

Once’s Musical poster and playbill cover graphic (Image source:

I am glad that this musical, based in Dublin, is doing well as a Broadway musical. I never saw the movie, so this review is based solely on the staged musical.

I attended the January 18 performance at the Bernard  B. Jacobs Theater. It was absolutely thronged, not an empty seat in the theater.

The music and lyrics are by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, and the book is by Enda Walsh. The musical has won 8 Tonys, 4 Drama Desk Awards and 1 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.

The songs were good, yes they were, and before the performance and during intermission the audience is allowed on stage with the actors, the bar on stage is a real bar. People lined up to get on stage and be among the actors/musicians before the performance.

A musical set in Dublin bar sounded a bit “twee” to me, and initially to the New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley, who sings its praises for the songs and the choreography.

I sat three rows from the front. That being said, I found the sound was too low to hear Paul Alexander Nolan, as Guy, speak his lines, and the same held true for David Patrick Kelly, Guy’s father. Joanna Christie, as girl, says stuff like,”I am always serious. I am Czech.” Not what I’d call natural dialogue. But, then again, it is a musical, not a play.

I thought the spoken lines were stilted, and the amount of hustling and bustling between scene shifts left me wondering if I had mistakenly drank a formula of Uppers instead of my usual.

The synchronized whirling and twirling, looking up and down, and general collective contemplation of  belly buttons during some scenes was entirely lost on me. Yes, I know it was adapted from a movie, and that translation to the stage is difficult, but jumping on tables, and synchronized swaying to and fro and dancing around with instruments in your hand, although difficult to do, is just a little too Riverdance meets Enya for me.

Hey, maybe I am a play lover at heart, but honestly, watching a bearded man with a really bad Dublin accent look wonderingly at his hand, just doesn’t float my boat. (See the loan scene) I might have to stick to plays.

How many times should you see Once? The answer is in the question.

Not my cup of tea at all, but hey, the place was packed to the rafters. So, good luck to it and fair dues to yer man making a few bob out of it. So says the woman making no money at all from blogging!

Once is playing at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater on Broadway. If you like love stories, Irish music and a pint of “twee” this is the one for you, at least Once anyway.


2 thoughts on “See “Once” once

  1. Ah but sure Ms. Leary- maybe you were sitting a bit too close for your own good-???–and sure- what harm is a bit of “twee” now and again?? Isn’t it great to have Irish song and dance celebrated nightly on the Great White Way even if it is a bit staged???

    I hope OUTSIDE MULLINGAR goes better for you. C u soon.

    • Well there! Be gosh and be gorrah if it isn’t yerself! The music was very good Mary Anne, but there was definitely a sound issue when the actors spoke their lines, and I just could not get into the synchronized dancing stuff! We’ll see what Outside Mulligar does for me bit of Irish Twee!

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