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BWW Interviews: 6 Questions & a Plug with ONCE's Dani DeWaal

ONCE is the show you cannot see just one time -- the popularity is still surging and the national tour is going strong. Hennepin Theatre Trust is bringing it back after a successful April 2014 stop at the Orpheum, this time to the State Theatre, making this a slightly unusual chance to see a full musical in the other historic theatre across the street. BWW Minneapolis got a chance to interview actress Dani DeWaal (bio below), who plays Girl again in Minneapolis. Get to know her more in 6 Questions & a Plug:

Tell us about your role of Girl in ONCE - and for those only familiar with the film, what's different or the same about your character.

Girl is a Czech immigrant living in Dublin. She lives in a too-small apartment with a number of friends and family including her young daughter and mother. They live a very modest life, but what they lack in money they make up for in spirit and the house is vibrant and full of music and life. It is this passion for music that draws her into meeting Guy. I think Girl's cheeky side and sense of humor is more in the forefront in our stage version in comparison to the film.

Why do you think this show strikes a chord with so many people - is it the "love" story, the music or some combination? And, do you see it as a love story?

I think it's a combination. The music is epic and romantic and can take you from 0-100 in the space of a bar. I think it would move people as a standalone concert. But then combine that with this unconventional love story, a simple tale really, but one that proposes to us huge universal questions of love and fear and going for your dreams and self-fulfillment. And you've got a really potent piece of theatre that seems to strike a chord with people of all ages. It's also not a typical 'boy meets girl and they live happily ever after' story, it's honest and real and doesn't shy away from the reality of there being obstacles and baggage involved when you meet someone, and that candor seems to allow for even more connection to the characters and their story.

You were with the tour when it came to Minneapolis last year, so this has been a long run for you. How do you keep it fresh for yourself, and what has been your favorite and least favorite parts of touring?

There are a number of things that help keep the show fresh for me. First of all there is my 'Guy,' Stuart Ward, who, almost two years down the line, still gives me an honest, interesting, open and in-the-moment character to work off, and, however subtle, there really are no two nights the same between us. Another aspect is that we all play our own instruments in the show, and we do this as a band as opposed to following a conductor in front of us. This really requires us to be listening and adjusting to each other the whole time; tempos and dynamics shift minutely every night and keep us on our toes.

As far as the touring life, I'm actually really enjoying it! I love experiencing new places and meeting new people. Strangely, I think a tough part is allowing yourself those days NOT to be a 'tourist'; and even though you're in a new city and feel like you should get out and explore, it's also ok to stay in your pajamas and do laundry.

What is something about ONCE that audiences may be surprised to learn or something they should watch for on stage?

There is a pre-show that is not to be missed! Our set is an Irish pub with an actual working bar, and about 15-20 minutes before curtain you can come up on stage, get a drink, and we come out and play a jam session of traditional Irish and Czech folk songs. It's a lot of fun, and will definitely get you in the Dublin spirit!

What motivated you to become an actor and how did you come to training in London, and what has been your favorite role to date and/or what is your dream role yet to be played?

I'm actually from England, I grew up in the Midlands and studied Acting in London. I moved to New York about a year before I started the ONCE tour. I think this has to be my favorite role to date, and in the future it's a big dream of mine to originate a role.

Now for the Plug: What's next for you after the national tour ends and where can fans see you on stage next?

Who knows! I have nothing in the pipeline at the moment, will just be back to auditioning for now.

Dani DeWaal Bio:

(Girl). Broadway: Picnic. West End: Mamma Mia! (Sophie Sheridan). Edinburgh Fringe: Just So. Workshops: The Last Ship, LIFT, Defect. Film: Non-Stop. Dani trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London.

Show info:

Read my 2014 review: /minneapolis/article/BWW-Reviews-Go-See-this-Show-at-ONCE-20140403?

ONCE, winner of eight Tony Awards including Best Musical and winner of the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical returns to Minneapolis by popular demand to play the State Theatre (805 Hennepin Ave., downtown Minneapolis) for a limited engagement Tuesday, June 23 through Sunday, June 28, 2015. With music and lyrics from the original Academy Award-winning film, ONCE tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician who's about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. Tickets are on sale now. Visit or call 1.800.982.2787 for tickets and more information.

Photo: Stuart Ward (Guy) and Dani DeWaal (Girl) in ONCE. Courtesy Hennepin Theatre Trust.

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