BWW Review: ONCE at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre is 'Gold!'
Broadway Palm's 200th mainstage production, ONCE, tells the beautifully bittersweet story of a girl and a guy who happen to meet and form a connection through music.
Mariah Lotz plays Girl and Jack Gerhard plays Guy, and I thought they were both phenomenal. Lotz brought a perfect amount of sass to her character, but she was also incredible at portraying the emotions she was feeling as she was torn between a past relationship and new feelings. Her voice was beautiful as well, and the passion she showed when playing the piano and singing really helped the audience connect to everything her character was dealing with behind the positivity and encouragement she showed toward Guy. Gerhard was just as wonderful; his soulful vocals and guitar playing, along with a fantastic portrayal of his character's emotional struggles, were perfectly executed, and I really enjoyed the connection he and Lotz had on stage.
I really enjoyed the flow of this show. While there were several slower, beautifully poignant moments, such as "Falling Slowly" and "Gold (A capella)," there were also more upbeat numbers that were very fun, like "Ej, Pada, Pada, Rosicka." Each one of them was captivating from beginning to end.
One of my favorite things about ONCE was how involved the whole cast is. The entire ensemble played at least one instrument, and they would join in during musical numbers, sometimes more in the forefront and sometimes more in the background (or the sides of the stage), as well as playing music or moving set pieces and props around during scene transitions. They also came on stage prior to the beginning of the show and performed a few songs, inviting audience members up on stage during that time as well. It was a great way to get the audience ready and excited for the show, and it was clear they were having a lot of fun.
ONCE teaches you about how drastically one person can change your life in a matter of days; sometimes it just takes a push to have motivation and courage to follow your dreams. This story might not have a traditional "happy ending," but I think there is a lot to take away from it. It has a heartfelt and inspiring plot, and the music is wonderful. It's a truly great production in every way. I would definitely recommend seeing ONCE at Broadway Palm if you get the chance; after the run at Broadway Palm is complete, the show will continue on its national tour. Another thing to note: about an hour before the show, prior to some of the cast members coming on stage and performing a few songs, the bar that is part of the set is open for audience members to come on stage and purchase a drink, so bring cash with you if you're interested in checking that out!
ONCE is playing now through September 28 at Broadway Palm. Performances are Wednesday through Sunday evenings, with selected matinees. Tickets are $48 to $73 with group prices available. There is a special for this show; tickets for anyone 25 and under are just $25 for the meal and the show! Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, visiting BroadwayPalm.com, or in person at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.