Once: A New Musical
Just over a month ago, I finally got to see the Tony award winning musical, Once! It was performing in the Straz Center located just outside of Tampa, so we made a day of it. The Straz isn’t exactly my favorite theater to go to, at least ticket price wise, but I was not going to miss another chance of seeing this show.
For this show, the mood is set as soon as you enter the theater. The set itself is designed to look like a pub in Scotland. But what makes it unique is, before the show, and during intermission, the set is a working bar! You heard correct. Audience members are able to walk up on stage, explore the set at their leisure, without touching anything of course, and even purchase a drink at the bar. It was an incredible detail! As it gets closer to show, the actors, which are all musicians come out on stage and pick up their instruments. They begin to play songs, with the audience still on stage. It sets the mood even more, making us feel as though we really are in a pub in Scotland. In a way, this is a pre-show performance, but it felt like so much more. I felt transported from Tampa, Florida to a pub in Scotland.
Once has one of the greatest openings of a musical I’ve ever seen. The performers all play through their own songs, dancing on stage, cheering each other on, and without even acknowledging the beginning of the show, the lead then begins to play his own song, the opening number of the show, and the house lights dim very, very slowly to dark. The audience is instantly swept up into the story-line.
This was easily one of the most beautiful musicals I’ve seen in my life. With the balance of realism and minimalism involved with the characters, music, and sets, I honestly forgot I was even watching a musical. Thanks to the set design of a pub and the opening with the performers singing on stage before the show even officially began, it felt like we were sitting in a real pub and these people were telling us their story. The movie itself is wonderful, and it is what got me interested in the show. The musical does a great job transferring the material from film to the stage! If this show comes to your hometown, do not hesitate to buy the tickets! You won’t be disappointed!