Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: Current ONCE Tour Ends in Boston December 27

Book by Enda Walsh; music by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová; based on the motion picture written and directed by John Carney; directed by John Tiffany; movement by Steven Hoggett; music supervisor and orchestrations, Martin Lowe; scenic and costume design, Bob Crowley; lighting design, Natasha Katz; sound direction, Clive Goodwin; dialect coach, Stephen Gabis; production stage manager, E. Cameron Holsinger

Cast in Alphabetical Order:

Girl, Dani de Waal; Svec, Matt DeAngelis; Eamon, John Steven Gardner; Billy, Evan Harrington; Ivanka, Sophie Knapp; Emcee, Ryan Link; Bank Manager, Jon-Alex MacFarlane; Andrej, Alex Nee; Ex-Girlfriend, Erica Spyres; Baruska, Tina Stafford; Da, Scott Waara; Guy, Stuart Ward; Reza, Claire Wellin

Performances and Tickets:

Now through December 27 (no performances December 24 and 25), Citi Performing Arts Center Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont Street, Boston; tickets are $48-$98 and are available at the Box Office, online at or by calling 866-348-9738.

People have been "Falling Slowly" in love with ONCE ever since composers Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová first enchanted audiences in 2007 with their tender, surprise hit indie romance movie. Now fans of the film and equally successful Tony Award-winning Broadway musical adaptation have one last chance to fall in love all over again as the current Broadway national tour comes to an end in Boston on December 27.

Composers Hansard and Irglová, book writer Enda Walsh, director John Tiffany and choreographer Steven Hoggett have kept the film's gentle, quirky acoustic pop charms intact while adding rousing Irish and Czech inflected folk songs that bring the film's vibrant working-class Dublin setting to life onstage. With a neighborhood Irish pub as the primary setting, ONCE is as warm, friendly, earthy and tangy as a frothy pint of Guinness Stout.

The love story between "Guy" (Stuart Ward), a heart-broken Irish singer-songwriter, and "Girl" (Dani de Waal), an enigmatic Czech immigrant who is drawn as much to Guy's music as she is to him, is a bittersweet one. While in another place and time they could easily have been soul mates, in this particular intersection of their lives they are destined instead for a friendship tinged with the hint of what could have been. Nevertheless, the impact each one has on the other is profound, with both becoming happier and stronger for the relationship.

Ward is superb as the wounded spurned lover who turns rather quickly, if sheepishly, to Girl for a connection. His singing and guitar playing are both raw and lyrical, placing his heart quite visibly on his musical sleeve. There's an aching wail in "Leave" and "Say It to Me Now" that's countered by the warmest of crooning in "Falling Slowly" and "Gold." The burning dreams that he doesn't dare voice consciously resonate in every note that he sings.

As Girl, de Waal mixes her own stunted dreams with a wry humor that enables her to be supportive and a bit distanced at the same time. In her duets with Ward, "If You Want Me" and "When Your Mind's Made Up," she balances fear and longing perfectly. In her solo "The Hill," on which she accompanies herself on piano, she quietly brings the house down with her intensity.

The tremendous ensemble of singer/musicians, who also execute some seriously good movement choreographed by Hoggett, stand in for colorful friends and family members. They also become the terrific studio musicians who back up Guy when he, encouraged by Girl, records his first demo CD. Of the supporting players, Evan Harrington as Billy, the music store owner; Jon-Alex MacFarlane as his arch enemy the Bank Manager who aspires to be a songwriter; Tina Stafford as Girl's mother Baruška; and Boston's own Erica Spyres as Guy's Ex-Girlfriend stand out. But all perform with a joyful swagger that seems born of finding fun amid the hard knocks and embracing love whenever they have the chance.

Just as with the movie that inspired it, ONCE the musical sneaks softly into an audience's heart. At first blush it may feel quiet and unassuming, but as with Guy and Girl's friendship, there's more there than meets the eye. It's a love story and a celebration of community - and a triumphant musical ode to moving on.

PHOTOS BY JOAN MARCUS: Stuart Ward as Guy and Dani de Waal as Girl; Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal; Stuart Ward and the Company of ONCE; Evan Harrington as Billy, Erica Spyres as Ex-Girlfriend, and the Company of ONCE; Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal

Related Articles View More Boston Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

From This Author Jan Nargi