Once | Review
Going back through the doors of Fairfield Halls last week was like revisiting an old friend. Since its closure several years ago for renovation Croydon has really missed its performing arts epicentre. The basic structure remain the same but its décor and interior has been much improved with a fresher more modern look. Audiences have recently enjoyed the pantomime. Cinderella but it was ‘Once’ in the Ashcroft Theatre that I really wanted to see.
Once (the musical) started life as a motion picture written and directed by John Carney and with songs written by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, it was adapted for the stage and had a very successful run on Broadway and at the Phoenix Theatre in the West End. Now this beautifully crafted show has completed its run at the Ashcroft Theatre it embarks on a nationwide tour.
On the surface, the story is quite simple, a musician recently split from his girlfriend is at a very low ebb, when by chance he encounters a girl who hears him play. She encourages him that his music needs to be heard, through the power of music and a new friendship the guy begins to heal and sees things with a more positive light. What makes the writing of ‘Once’ so beautiful is that it deals with the complexities of life and more importantly love, you never have a straightforward choice as things are never as simple as they seem.
It is a story is so open and relatable that it isn’t even necessary to give the lead characters names and are listed in the programme as ‘Guy’ and ‘Girl’. The guy is played by Daniel Healy whose long association with ‘Once’ started when he was understudy for Ronan Keating, the original Guy in the West End production, he has absolutely perfected the role. His reticence in the early scenes is spot on and as his role develops you realise what an accomplished musician and actor he is. Emma Lucia has also played ‘The Girl’ before during the regional premier of Once. She brings boundless enthusiasm and musical talent to the role and the connection between her and Healy is palpable. It is casting that works a dream.
The rest of the actor/musicians have bountiful talent all playing multiple instruments often while singing and dancing too. They are onstage before the show starts having a jamming session while the audience are seated so you are in no doubt of their musical abilities from the off. Once is set in Dublin and the music has traditional Irish roots but with a modern twist played on acoustic string and percussion instruments. The songs are so meaningful they stay with you for hours after the show reinforcing the theme that creating music is all about expressing your feelings.
I wish Once a richly deserved successful tour, The story, music and staging blend together to create a blissful evening out. Bravo!
Reviewer: Sammi O’Neill
ONCE UK TOUR
19 December 2019 – 11 January 2020 | Ashcroft Theatre, Fairfield Halls Croydon
13 – 18 January 2020 | Cliffs Pavillion Southend
20 – 25 January 2020 | Liverpool Empire
3 – 8 February 2020 | Grand Opera House York
10 – 15 February 2020 | New Victoria Theatre Woking
17 – 22 February 2020 | Milton Keynes Theatre
24 February – 1 March 2020 | New Wolsey Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
2 – 7 March 2020 | Bath Theatre Royal
10 – 14 March 2020 | Belgrade Theatre Coventry
17 – 21 March 2020 | Regent Theatre Stoke
23 – 28 March 2020 | Malvern Festival Theatre
30 March – 4 April 2020 | His Majesty’s Theatre Aberdeen
6 – 11 April 2020 | Nottingham Theatre Royal
14 – 18 April 2020 | New Theatre Oxford
20 – 25 April 2020 | Theatre Royal Brighton
5 – 9 May 2020 | Lyceum Theatre Sheffield
11 – 16 May 2020 | Millennium Centre Cardiff
18 – 23 May 2020 | Mayflower Theatre Southampton
26 – 30 May 2020 | Edinburgh Playhouse
1 – 6 June 2020 | Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
8 – 13 June 2020 | Marlowe Theatre Canterbury
15 – 20 June 2020 | Leicester Curve
22 – 27 June 2020 | The Lowry, Salford
6 – 11 July 2020 | Theatre Royal Plymouth
13 – 18 July 2020 | King’s Theatre Glasgow
20 – 25 July 2020 | Hull New Theatre