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Review: ONCE Quietly Enchants, at Broadway Rose

Review: ONCE Quietly Enchants, at Broadway Rose

All performances of ONCE at Broadway Rose are sold out. That doesn't mean you can't still get tickets, but to do so you'll have to go to the theatre and hope someone doesn't show up. This will be well worth your time, even if you don't get tickets and end up standing outside, listening to the music through the door.

ONCE, which took home eight Tonys in 2012, is an enchanting musical based on an enchanting movie about an Irish man, Guy, and a Czech woman, Girl, who form an unexpected bond over music. The whole show takes place over about a week, during which they meet, fall in love, and record an album. Of course, it's a lot more complicated than that -- she's married with a daughter (though her husband is back home in the Czech Republic); he's pining for a girlfriend who left for New York six months ago. It's these complicated feelings that allow them to create such beautiful and heart-wrenching music.

And it's the music, written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (who starred together in the movie), that's the star of this show. The songs are more like what you'd expect to find on an indie rock station than in a Broadway musical. They typically start quietly, with just a single guitar and then gradually fill in with the piano, more guitars, strings, drums, and an accordion, creating a lush listening experience that fills every corner of the Broadway Rose New Stage building.

While ONCE centers on two characters, it's really an ensemble piece. The actors double as the band, and they're all on stage the whole time. As an audience member, you feel more like you're sitting in a pub watching a cèilidh than sitting in a theatre watching a play.

In this production, Morgan Hollingsworth and Marissa Neitling, who play Guy and Girl, are supported by an incredible group of actors/musicians, including the captivating, fiddle-playing Jahnavi Alyssa as Girl's friend Reza; Andrew Maldarelli as Billy, a guitar player and the hot-headed owner of the town's music store; and Kymberli Colbourne as Baruska, Girl's mom and also the accordionist.

Overall, ONCE is a show you should not miss. My advice is to go out to Tigard and take your chances. If you don't end up with a ticket, you really can hear the music from outside. If you're lucky enough to already have a ticket, get there early for the pre-show music on stage. Take tissues.

ONCE runs through October 27. More details here.

Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer

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