Once

April 6, 2019

in Musicals

Musical (2011)
Book by Enda Walsh
Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Inglova
Based on the motion picture (2011)
Written and directed by John Carney

Directed by Paul Melone
Music direction by Steven Ladd Jones
Choreography by Ilyse Robbins
Speakeasy Stage Company
March 1 – April 7, 2019

With Nile Scott Hawver (Guy), Mackenzie Lesser-Roy (Girl), Billy Butler (Billy), Kathy St. George (Baruska)

Nile Scott Hawver as Guy, Mackenzie Lesser-Roy as Girl in 'Once'

Nile Scott Hawver as Guy
Mackenzie Lesser-Roy as Girl
in “Once”
Photo: Maggie Hall Photography
Courtesy of Speakeasy Stage Company

A wonderfully produced rendition of the musical based on the film about an Irish songwriter street musician and the Czech woman who inspires him.

Guy (Nile Scott Hawver) is a failing musician in Dublin – he’s lost confidence and hope, ready to give up his guitar – when he meets a Czech girl who’s living there. She takes a serious interest in his music and inspires him to reconsider his possibilities. Though drawn to one another, they both have entanglements, but their encounter promises to produce some great results.

What an invigorating and superb production this is. An excellent band of highly versatile musicians populates the cast and miraculously most of them are very good actors as well. Exuberant music greets one on entering the theater and presents itself throughout. Top notch music direction by Steven Ladd Jones enables very tight ensemble work.

And everyone plays!

Nile Scott Hawver is an excellent guitarist, sings beautifully, and embodies Guy in a way that’s appealingly vulnerable.

Mackenzie Lesser-Roy is a truly stupendous Girl (the Czech one). Her acting is superb – she delivers her bons mots wonderfully well – and she also plays piano beautifully. She and Hawver sing wonderfully together. Her way of conveying the complexities of feeling is also marvelous and subtle. She does a really terrific job.

Billy Butler, who plays Billy, the piano store owner, is a scream. He’s also an excellent musician, but carries off the very funny part with gusto.

Kathy St. George (Baruska) has a concise but wonderful turn as the Czech Girl’s mother.

The script by Enda Walsh is very wittily written and gives the best lines to Lesser-Roy’s Czech girl, who pumps them out with perfect delivery.

Kudos to dialect coach Lee Nishri-Howitt. None of the accents here sound fake, and the Czech Girl’s one is really out of this world.

The rest of the cast is amazingly good both instrumentally and in their various supporting roles. Five outstanding guitarists, a truly wonderful fiddler, and a cello, mandolin, banjo and drums fill out the retinue.

The staging and choreography and also superbly done, enabling the musicians to appear from and disappear into the scenery, provide support when needed, but allow the principals to do their thing at appropriate times.

– BADMan

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