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Review: ONCE at Berkshire Theatre Group

Review: ONCE at Berkshire Theatre Group

Small Scale Musical Delivers in a Big Way.

Ireland has one of the richest folklore traditions in the world. The tradition of storytelling is almost as ancient as Ireland itself. It is infused with the soul of the country to this day. This is primarily due to the fact that the Celtic culture in Ireland has been maintained for more than 2,000 years.

Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical, ONCE tells the story of a guy who gave up on love and music and the girl who inspired him to dream again. Director Gregg Edelman reflected, "I love this show...Its deeply romantic score is beautifully paired with a script that is every bit as touching as it is funny. A truly rare piece of theatre." At its core, ONCE captures the subtle, disarming, charm of gathering at the village pub, and sharing a few pints as well as a collection of tales told through beautiful, touching, poignant songs.

Review: ONCE at Berkshire Theatre Group
David Toole and the cast of BTG's ONCE
Photo: Emma K. Rothenberg-Ware

On the streets of Dublin, an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant are drawn together by their shared love of music. "Guy" is a singer and songwriter who spends his days fixing vacuums in the Dublin shop he runs with his father and his nights playing his music in local pubs. He is on the verge of giving up music altogether when "Girl," walks into the bar, hears him play and refuses to let him abandon his guitar. Over the course of one fateful week, an unexpected friendship and collaboration quickly evolve into a powerful but complicated love story.

Featuring all of the magical songs from the critically acclaimed film, including the Oscar-winning "Falling Slowly," this is the only show to have music that won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Olivier Award and a Tony Award. Achingly beautiful, joyously uplifting, it strikes an unforgettable chord in audiences and speaks to the power of music to connect us all.

Review: ONCE at Berkshire Theatre Group
Andrea Gross and David Toole
Photo: Jacey Rae Russell

The production features Caleb Adams as Eamon; Will Boyajian as Svec; Benjamin Camenzuli as Andrej; Ella Fish as Ivanka; Andrea Goss as Girl; Shani Hadjian as Baruska; Adam Huel Potter as Billy; Emma Proskin as Ivanka; Pearl Rhein as Reza; Andy Taylor as Bank Manager; David Toole as Guy; EJ Zimmerman as Ex-Girlfriend; Kurt Zischke as Da; and J. Michael Zygo as Emcee. The group of talented individuals have come together and formed such a strong and convincing bond and synergy they seem to be more like a touring company that has been delighting audiences across the country / world for many years. Every member of the ensemble performs and contributes at the highest level. They also give a somewhat different meaning to the term triple threat as each plays multiple instruments doubling as both members of the cast and the band. It would be inappropriate to try and single out any individual. And yet, not to make special mention of leads David Toole as "Guy" and Andrea Gross as "Girl". They do indeed lead the way with strong performances on every level, driving a level of energy and sincerity that is both palatable and rare. Their voices are impressive, crystal clear, and fit together extremely well.

The creative team for ONCE consists of direction by Tony Award nominee Gregg Edelman, music direction/piano by Andy Taylor, movement direction by Isadora Wolfe, scenic design by Josafath Reynoso, costume design by Elivia Bovenzi Blitz, lighting design by Matthew E. Adelson, sound design by Nathan Leigh, resident dialect coach Jennifer Scapetis-Tycer, casting direction by Alan Filderman, stage management by Pamela Edington and assistant stage management by Jenn Gallo. Their efforts have transformed the Colonial theatre into that friendly Little Village with the pub where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came.

ONCE is one of those productions that comes along, once in a while, where audience members can truly sit back, relax, get comfortable, and enjoy as a delightful experience sweeps them up, carries them away, and lets them feel all the feels. ONCE continues at Berkshire Theatre Group's Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

From This Author - Marc Savitt

Marc Savitt has a life-long passion for, and association with the performing arts, particularly Musical Theatre. He has performed with choral groups in several US cities, and London, and appears on... (read more about this author)

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