BWW Reviews: ONCE Charms at The Fabulous Fox Theatre

BWW Reviews: ONCE Charms at The Fabulous Fox Theatre

Once, the Oscar-winning film ("Falling Slowly"), has a lot of qualities to it that don't immediately make you think it should transition well to the stage. It's a simple story that deals mostly with two main characters, and it doesn't have an "in your face" type of score, or mood about it. And yet, somehow writer Enda Walsh (book) is able to maintain that intimate intensity without sacrificing its charms. It helps that Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova have crafted a subtle, but fine collection of tunes that really work well to assist in telling the story, even on a big stage. The current production gracing the Fox Theatre is wonderfully directed (John Tiffany), and makes for a perfect "date night" out. This Tony Award winner is deserved of its praise and delivers must-see entertainment.

The story follows a Dublin busker, who makes a living as a vacuum repairman, known only as Guy (a splendid Stuart Ward), and a Czech immigrant (a radiant Dani de Waal), who sells flowers, known only as Girl. An initial friendship quickly blossoms into love as their mutual love of music brings them together as songwriters. They may not wind up staying together, but the impact they make on one another changes both their lives in meaningful ways. Raymond Bokhour also delivers a nice performance as Guy's father, and Donna Garner is lively as the Girl's mother.

The inviting scenic design (Bob Crowley, who also creates the costumes) plants a working Dublin pub on the stage. It might be a bit impractical, but it's a cool choice. What also distinguishes this show is the fact that all the actors are playing their instruments as well. This was a nifty touch for some productions of Sweeney Todd, and it's a brilliant decision here too. Natasha Katz's lighting scheme enhances the mood and Steve Hoggett's movements keep the songs and action captivating.

Once is a beautiful little musical, and while it might get swallowed up at times by the generous confines of the Fox Theatre, it's a charmer that demands your attention. Once plays through April 20, 2014.

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Chris Gibson Chris has been active in the local theatre scene for over 30 years. In addition to his acting work, he's also contributed as a director, writer and composer. Though, initially a film buff, he grew tired of the sanitized, PG-13 rated blockbusters that were being continually shoved down his throat by the studios. An opportunity to review theatre in St. Louis has grown exponentially with the sudden explosion of venues and talent in the region. He now finds himself obsessed with witnessing those precious, electric moments that can only happen live, on stage.

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