BWW Reviews: ONCE at the Paramount - Touching and Simple Storytelling
We all know the annoying trend of turning every well-regarded or sellable movie into a Broadway Musical. Do we really need a stage version of the popular film especially when that film is pretty much a musical already such as with the indie sleeper hit "Once"? Well, I don't know if we need it but in this case I'm actually glad we have it as they have taken this lovely romance and just simply let it be told through it's gorgeous music and some very simple staging and the result is a great big sigh (and maybe even a few tears) at the end of a truly entertaining evening.
It's a very simple love story between a guy and a girl. In fact, that's all the leads in the show are ever known as, "guy" and "girl" (Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal). And we follow as heartbroken Irish singer/hoover repairman guy and blunt and quirky Czech girl come together over guy's music. But can their attraction for each other go beyond the music since guy still has his girlfriend in New York and girl is still married? Well, that's the movie ... er ... play.
Yes, if you've seen the movie you know how it turns out and God love 'em they didn't change the ending. In fact they changed very little except to stage this multiple locale story brilliantly on a single stage. Locations are shifted with the aid of some minor furniture shifts and it all works since it's all about the music anyway. And with that music and the incredible source material as the blueprint it's already got a solid foundation but the staging and movement from John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett make this piece go beyond a simple play or concert and into an almost ethereal love story. It never goes over the top but simply punctuates the story and then lets it be.
Ward and de Waal couldn't be more perfect together with their killer musicality and perfect blend of tentative romance and honest humanity. And when we add to that their insane chemistry and wonderful comic timing and they become an absolute joy to watch. But they're not alone on stage as they're surrounded by the most delightful band of misfit characters each with their own musical talents who fill out the story and the sound of the piece beautifully. I especially have to call out Matt DeAngelis and Evan Harrington who bring in some hilarious comic relief to the show. Oh and have I mentioned the cast all play the instruments on stage? That's right, no orchestra in the pit as these extremely talented musicians are on hand.
It's just a simply beautiful love story with some gorgeous songs. There's no flash or high tech wizardry, just a lovely story. So again, do we need it? Maybe not. Do we want it? To answer that I give the show a resounding YAY with my three letter rating system.
"Once" performs at the Paramount Theatre through June 8th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.stgpresents.org.