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Review Roundup: ONCE Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!

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ONCE, the acclaimed new musical opened on Broadway Sunday, March 18, 2012 after a successful Off-Broadway run in 2011. The musical, based on the 2007 Academy Award-winning film features a book by Enda Walsh, music and lyrics of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, direction by John Tiffany, movement by Steven Hoggett  and music supervision and orchestrations by Martin Lowe. The set and costume design are by Bob Crowley, lighting design is by Tony winner Natasha Katz and sound design is by Clive Goodwin.

The cast of ONCE features Steve Kazee as 'Guy' and Cristin Milioti as 'Girl.' Also in the company are David Abeles, Will Connolly, Elizabeth A. Davis, David PatRick Kelly, Anne L. Nathan, Lucas Papaelias, Ripley Sobo, Andy Taylor, Mckayla Twiggs, Erikka Walsh, Paul Whitty, and J. Michael Zygo.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: "But the greater distance between stage and audience that comes with a move to a Broadway house softens The Edges of its exaggeration. And what was always wonderful about “Once,” its songs and its staging, has been magnified. In the meantime its appealing stars, Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti, have only grown in presence and dimensionality. Who would have thought that this soft-spoken little musical would have found itself by raising its voice?"

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: "Pure, moving and inventive – these are the foundations of the irresistible production that opened Sunday, and it is a study in how to beautifully adapt a movie to the stage. In many ways, in fact, this Once is better than the original Once."

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: "A Sundance discovery and a breakout hit for Fox Searchlight in 2007, the Irish indie movie has become a captivating Broadway musical, with a superb cast of actor-musicians led by Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti...Once is a small-scale but warmly affecting show, crafted with profound respect for the power of music. For anyone who feels that Broadway has become the domain of bloated spectacles and cynically overworked brands, this will be a refreshing artisanal tonic."

Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg News: "Happily, Once remains a rare combination of intelligence, warmth and musicality."

David Sheward, Backstage: "Now a stage adaptation has the chance to weave a similar spell over Broadway, after a hit run at Off-Broadway's New York Theatre Workshop earlier this season. Some of the intimacy is lost in the transfer to the Main Stem, but the musical maintains its warm and enveloping embrace as well as the quiet power to move and entrance. ... and the result is an unforgettable valentine of a show that you'll likely want to take in more than once."

Charles McNulty, LA Times: "So it’s a little surprising, though very satisfying, to report that the musical “Once” has made a happy Broadway landing at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, which has converted its stage into an old-fashioned Irish pub to make everyone feel, if not quite as cozy as they did at New York Theatre Workshop, where the work debuted late last year, at least just as relaxed and welcome ... The only major problem with the show, which stars Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti as the characters known simply as Guy and Girl, is that it overstretches its material. There really isn’t enough story or music for two acts. The film didn’t need more than 90 minutes to complete the arc of this adult fable, and neither does the stage version."

Jonathan Mandell, The Faster Times: “Once stays homey, charming, and inviting; on a smaller scale than usual for a Broadway musical, which turns out to be a good thing. It is also slow moving and slight. It requires patience, or at least the right mind-set, to fall for this show (Falling slowly, indeed.) The musical is an hour longer than the movie. But even with John Carney’s movie script adapted by a first-rate playwright, Enda Walsh (whose most recent play produced in New York was the eerie Misterman), the story in Once the musical is only a bit less sketchy than the film."

Linda Winer, Newsday: "But the musical, with its beguiling book by Enda Walsh, also has the team's new songs, equally strong, with hypnotic rhythms, gorgeous harmonic blends and insinuating melodies that make unexpected interval leaps seem natural and easygoing. Guy is still played with endearing slacker sweetness by Steve Kazee. Cristin Milioti remains pert and odd, with a forthrightness it would be wrong to mistake for pat adorableness."

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: "Whether a broad Broadway public will take to Once is an open question, even if the brilliance of its constituent artistry will surely slay those who most appreciate this form of expression. The music, although beautiful, does not come with the usual tricks. There is neither digital scenery nor spectacle — although I swear I saw the streets of Dublin and the possibilities of the world beyond. This is a show that demands that its audience listen. But then, how can you love if you're not willing to allow someone, something, to be heard?"

Howard Shapiro, Philadelphia Inquirer: "They won the original-song Oscar in 2007 for "Falling Slowly," in the film and now, a key song in the stage musical. In it, yet another browbeaten lyric for its two main characters commands: "Take this sinking boat and point it home -- you've still got time." Not a bad suggestion for the audience, either."

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: "The wonderful musical “Once” is the sweetest and most romantic show on Broadway and proves that not all love stories lead to the bedroom. [...] The show’s creators deserve kudos for staying faithful to the movie without taking a tracing-paper approach in retelling it."

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: "The new Broadway musical “Once” doesn’t have a swinging chandelier, tap-dancing showgirls or brand-name stars. There’s only one set — and it doesn’t levitate. The show wins its standing ovations the old-fashioned way: with a love story, great songs, compelling characters and inventive stagecraft. At this point in Broadway history, this feels downright revolutionary."

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