Review Roundup: Broadway Bound ONCE Opens at NYTW - All the Reviews!

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New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) presents the Broadway-bound world premiere of the new musical Once, which is based on the Academy Award-winning film. Once began previews Tuesday, November 15 and opens tonight, December 6 at New York Theatre Workshop, 79 East 4 Street, between Bowery and Second Avenue. Also revealed tonight are plans for ONCE to open on Broadway, beginning previews at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater on February 28, 2012, with an opening night set for March 18, 2012.

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

Once features music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (who won the Academy Award in 2008 for Best Original Song for "Falling Slowly" from the film Once); book by Enda Walsh (Disco Pigs, The New Electric Ballroom, Penelope, Hunger, The Walworth Farce); movement by Steven Hoggett (Peter and the Starcatcher, Black Watch); musical supervision by Martin Lowe (Mamma Mia!) and direction by John Tiffany (Black Watch). The set and costume design are by Tony winner Bob Crowley (The Coast of Utopia); lighting design is by Tony winner Natasha Katz (Aida, The Coast of Utopia), and sound design by Clive Goodwin. The independent Irish film Once was written and directed by John Carney, and starred Mr. Hansard and Ms. Irglová, who wrote the original music and lyrics for the film. It was made for $150,000; shot in 17 days; and grossed $20M worldwide, becoming a critically acclaimed international smash. In addition to the Oscar, Mr. Hansard and Ms. Irglová won the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Music, and the film's soundtrack was nominated for two Grammy Awards. Does the musical adaptation match up to its film counterpart's critical acclaim? Find out here!

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: What’s enchanting in one context, subjected to stress, exaggeration or self-consciousness, can seem soppy or strident in another. That’s the big problem faced by the talented creators of “Once,” the gently appealing new musical...But a merciful reversal occurs when “Once” breaks into music, which is often. Characters become less adorably overwrought and more genuinely conflicted, with distinctive personalities instead of standard-issue ones. The songs soar with rough-edged, sweet-and-sad ambivalence that is seldom visited in contemporary American musicals.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: There’s some special theater magic happening in Once. From writers and director through design team and an extraordinary ensemble of actor-musicians, it’s hard to think of another company in town working as such a seamless unit to serve the material...In one of the show’s most exquisite moments, Crowley and lighting designer Natasha Katz transform the stage, as if by waving a wand, into a seaside cliff top above sparkling waters. It’s one of many times in Once when we are reminded of theater’s singular capacity to enchant and transport us.

Michael Giltz, Huffington Post: Someone had the very bad idea of turning the movie into a stage musical. Against all logic, you have a beautifully intimate, sweet, and deeply moving musical anchored by two marvelous new leads, that stirring music and a pitch-perfect production at the New York Theatre Workshop.

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: Director John Tiffany and movement specialist Steven Hoggett have worked previously together on the play “Black Watch,” about the Iraq conflict. They are as imaginative with love as they were with war. Their work here is expressive, eloquent and vividly theatrical. As characters move in unison it feels more like a fairy tale. The leads are certainly enchanting.

Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press: One thing is clear: The sweetness, the charm, and the deceptively addictive songs by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova are all still there, ready as ever to claim the heart. Add to that some lovely, original staging by director John Tiffany and choreographer Steven Hoggett (both of whom were behind the terrific "Black Watch" from The National Theatre of Scotland), not to mention excellent orchestrations by Martin Lowe.

Michael Musto, The Village Voice: The resulting musical is full of mournful ballads that don't always lend themselves to theatricality...At least this is not another bombastic, gimmicky musical. It has an awkward sincerity that's refreshing, especially in a movie-to-show translation.

Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg: As Guy and Girl, Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti are perfect vocal complements to each other. Whenever they’re joined by the rest of this remarkable ensemble, the music is gorgeous...This is one show where having actors play instruments actually makes sense. “Once” charms us with a rare combination of intelligence, warmth and musicality.

Clifford Lee Johnson III, Backstage: By daring to take a quiet approach and hewing close to the original plot, playwright Enda Walsh and songwriters Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová have transformed "Once," the 2006 indie film that won an Academy Award for best song, into an offbeat musical that's as intimate and immediate as a set of deeply felt folk songs heard in a Greenwich Village club.

Matt Windman, amNY: The bulk of John Tiffany's intimate production observes the delicate, unexpectedly celibate relationship between Guy and Girl. The rest of the cast always remains onstage, and their group movement can be extraordinarily beautiful. Whereas the film ran a breezy 90 minutes, the stage version lasts about an hour longer and often moves too slowly. Nevertheless, this remains an extremely touching boy-meets-girl love story full of heartfelt and catchy soft-rock songs.

Robert Feldberg, NorthJersey.com: What holds you is not plot tension – the big question is whether the twosome will raise enough money to pay for a studio recording session – but the simpatico feeling of the whole thing, directed with a smooth and generous hand by John Tiffany. There are no villains, only the challenging vagaries of life.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: That everybody onstage sings and plays their own instruments helps smoothly integrate the plot and songs. You don’t even think of the last as “numbers” anymore, as love, music and life merge into an organic whole. Here’s to “Once,” then, a musical that’s as unabashedly romantic, funny, passionate and sad as you dreamed it would be.

 

 

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