BWW Review: ONCE at The Segal Centre For Performing Arts

BWW Review: ONCE at The Segal Centre For Performing Arts

ONCE is a perfect gem of a musical that has found a home at The Segal Centre for Performing Arts.

In 2006, writer and director John Carney recruited his long time friend and former bandmate Glen Hansard to write songs for his indie film, which was being produced on a shoestring budget. Due to a series of what could have been perceived as unfortunate events, Hansard took over the male lead opposite Markéta Irglovà, who was also composing songs for the film. The resulting film is both true to life and magical and easily one of the best romantic comedies of a generation. ONCE took home the Audience Award at Sundance before going on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song for Hansard and Irglovà's Falling Slowly.

In 2011, the stage musical adaptation of ONCE premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop before transferring to Broadway in 2012. As in the film, the music and lyrics were written by Hansard and Irglovà, with Enda Walsh coming on board as Book Writer. The production received eleven 2012 Tony Award nominations, and won eight including Best Musical, Best Actor and Best Book. The musical also won the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical and the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

A disillusioned Irish busker, known simply as Guy, (Greg Halpin) has just decided to

BWW Review: ONCE at The Segal Centre For Performing Arts

abandon his lacklustre music career in Dublin when he meets a young Czech woman, aka Girl (Eva Foote). Girl is so moved by Guy's songs that she makes it her mission to revive his love of music and heal his troubled lovelorn soul. She brings him to a local music shop where the owner is so smitten with her, he lets her play the piano for free. Girl and Guy are drawn together by their shared love of music. Their story is deceptively simple but the message is clear. The power of music has the ability to connect us all. ONCE is especially poignant because, despite the pair's meeting of hearts, minds and spirit through music, they are destined not to be together.

Andrew Shaver's imaginative direction skillfully balances intimacy with bold passion. We are instantly drawn into the world of the characters. The masterful lighting design by Martin Sirois was gorgeous from the street to the pub to the warmth of a beach.

Making their professional debuts, Halpin and Foote were as natural as Hansard and Irglovà were in the original film. Both have vocal chops that are off the charts. Their passion for their characters and their connection to each other was evident, particularly in Falling Slowly and the Act 1 finale, Gold.

Halpin effectively captures Guy as he grows in his rediscovery of his love of music. He plays guitar throughout the show and his voice has a raw quality, not all that different from Hansard's, especially on the passionate Say it to me Now.

Foote is quirky, sweet and funny as the brutally honest Girl. Her If You Want Me is captivating.

Rounding out the cast are Eric Digras, Olivier Gervais-Courchesne, Jon-Alex BWW Review: ONCE at The Segal Centre For Performing ArtsMacFarlane, Marie Mahabal, Sophie Paradis, Bryan Quinn, Matthew Raudsepp, Mahalia Golnosh Tahririha, ia Czarnecki and Liv Simcha Chaimberg, Al Goulem and Justin Rutledge. All of the actors on stage needed to be "quadruple threats," singing, dancing, acting and playing various instruments in the production. Watching this show didn't feel so much as if we were watching a musical, but rather an intimate concert.

The music of ONCE is the real star of the show. From the infectious When Your Mind's Made Up to Falling Slowly, Hansard and Irglovà's score is rich and memorable.

ONCE is the rarest of musical theatre gems that you will want to see again and again.

ONCE runs at The Segal Centre for Performing Arts through October 28.

TICKETS: $53 - $67

Group, Senior, Student, Under 30 discounts available. Subject to availability.



October 7 - October 28, 2018

Regular Run:

Mondays - 7:00 p.m.

Tuesdays - Saturdays (closed Fridays) - 8:00 p.m.

Sundays - 7:00 p.m.


Wednesdays, October 17 and 24 - 1:00 p.m.

Sundays, October 14, 21, and 28 - 2:00 p.m.


An enriching pre-show lecture on the ideas and themes of Once.

Sunday, October 7 - 11:00 a.m.

Entrance is free.


A chance to interact with the creators and actors of the play after the curtain goes down.

Mondays, October 15 and 22

About the Segal Centre for Performing Arts

The Segal Centre for Performing Arts is a not-for-profit theatre company dedicated to creating, producing and presenting world-class English-language theatre and to showcasing the best professional artists from Montréal and beyond. A part of the community since 1967, the organization was reborn in 2007 as the Segal Centre and has expanded to become a nationally recognized venue for the performing arts with a focus on creation, innovation, diversity and cross-cultural collaborations. Driven by a belief in the power of the arts to strengthen and connect communities, the Segal's programming emphasizes original interpretations of popular classic and contemporary works, new Canadian musicals and engaging productions with universal appeal.

Photo Credit: Leslie Schachter

Related Articles View More Montreal Stories   Shows

From This Author Noelle Hannibal

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram instagram