BWW Review: ONCE at the John W. Engeman Theatre
One thing is certain: Northport's stunning John W. Engeman Theatre never disappoints. This especially with their latest offering of the eight-time Tony winning musical Once. The absolutely exquisite incarnation, running through March 4th, is outstandingly directed by Trey Compton and boasts an incredibly gifted and beautiful cast.
Based on the 2007 movie, the story centers on a woman and a man (not officially named in the show) who, besides instant attraction, are drawn to each other by music. However, it is a complicated and heart-tugging situation.
Broadway vet Andrea Goss superbly portrays the woman, a young Czech mother in Dublin, Ireland. Indeed an audience favorite is her moving rendition of "The Hill" in act two. Ms. Goss and a charming Barry DeBois, who portrays the man, make a sensational team. His torment in choosing what do to - rekindling his romance with his longtime girlfriend who recently moved to New York or stay with his new found love - is well exude by Mr. DeBois. To really feel their journey, pay extra close attention to the gorgeous score by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová who are also the stars of the movie version.
The whole cast are also musicians even serving as what would be the orchestra in addition to their speaking parts. Ms. Goss on the piano, Mr. DeBois on the guitar, and there are drums, percussion, strings... it's thrilling to see, really.
As for the set, a bar is the centerpiece. Several chairs are moved around consistently so when the cast is not "on stage", they take a seat on the side. Also, before the show and during intermission, it is a working bar serving drinks to patrons while the cast performs. It adds immeasurably to the show when it is engaging and the audience is respectful. And above the bar section is a - if, perhaps, a little juvenile looking - hill where our leading players have a powerful conversation. The visually alluring show is strikingly enhanced by Mr. Compton's choreography and Cory Pattak's lighting design.
And so, Once is undoubtedly a must see for this season. An extraordinarily affecting story and a remarkable cast make for a great night of theatre.
Music & Lyrics by Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová, Book by Enda Walsh, Based on the 2007 movie by John Carney, Direction & Choreography by Trey Compton (Engeman Theater: Assoc. Director - Gypsy, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Twelve Angry Men, The Music Man, Evita, The Producers, West Side Story; Off-Broadway: YANK!, White's Lies), Musical Direction by James Olmstead (Engeman Theater: Mamma Mia!, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Memphis, West Side Story, The Producers, A Chorus Line, Evita; Broadway: Radio City's New York Spring Spectacular (Keyboardist), On Your Feet! (Copyist)), Associate Director/Movement Consultant Natalie Malotke (NYC: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Choreography Assistant), Little Dancer, Really Rosie (Asst. Director); Regional: Paper Mill Playhouse, Pioneer Theatre Company, Music Theatre Wichita). Scenic Design by Nate Bertone, Costume Design by Tristan Raines, Lighting Design by Cory Pattak, Sound Design by Laura Shubert & Don Hanna, Casting by Gayle Seay & Scott Wojcik & Holly Buczek of WOJCIK/SEAY Casting, Prop Design by Suzanne Mason, Stage Management by Jessica Browning
Starring Barry DeBois as Guy (National Tour: Once; NYC: The Shape of Things, The Wedding Singer, The Seed of Abraham, Pilgrims of the Night, Deployed; Regional: Midtown Arts Center, Media Theatre, The Armory Theatre, Players Guild Theatre, Cassidy Theatre, Kathleen Howland Theatre, Rivertree Players, Carnation City Theatre) and Andrea Goss as Girl (Broadway: Indecent, Cabaret, Once, Rent; National Tours: Cabaret (Sally Bowles); Regional: Baltimore Center Stage, TUTS, Alliance, McCarter, CTG/Kansas City Rep, North Shore, MUNY, Syracuse Stage; Film: "Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway")
With Billy Cohen, AnnaBelle Deaner, Elisabeth Evans, Ryan Halsaver, John Thomas Hays, Stephen McIntyre, Rachel Mulcahy, Ryan Michael Owens, Terry Palasz, Bristol Pomeroy, Sam Saint Ours, Sophia Lily Tamburo, Douglas Waterbury-Tieman, and Lauren Wright
Photo by Michael DeCristofaro