BWW Review: Theatre Raleigh's ONCE is Simply Grand

BWW Review: Theatre Raleigh's ONCE is Simply GrandFrom the outset, it is clear, that Theatre Raleigh's production of ONCE is not going to be a typical theatrical experience, but a completely immersive one.

Based on the 2007 movie of the same name, ONCE is a story about a Guy and a Girl who come together through their love of music.

From the get-go, a band of players greets the audience with music and merriment, transporting the occupants of The Kennedy Theatre from Downtown Raleigh to smack dab in the middle of Dublin's North Strand.

And that talented band of players it turns out makes up the brilliant ensemble cast, led by Jack Boice, Megan Ort, and Tracy Thomas. They sing, dance, act, and play multiple instruments, as do the two leads, played by David Toole and Morgan Parpan.

Toole's Guy is impassioned and tender. He is not only a master on the guitar but a purist as well, having sought out to use the same type of weathered guitar used in the original Broadway production. Toole's passion for details comes through in his performance, whereby his musicality taps into the raw emotion and heartache of his character.

Equally stunning is Morgan Parpan as Girl. She is suitably cast as the optimistic, positive, direct, and torn "Girl," and captivates the audience during her beautiful, heartfelt performance of The Hill in the second act, a small glimpse at the depth of her character.

What distinguishes ONCE from other contemporary musicals is Glen Hansard's and Markéta Irglová's folk-rock score, which is not only performed by the actors on stage in lieu of an off-stage band or orchestra but is also chock full of beautiful, understated, ballads similar to the pair's Academy Award-winning song Falling Slowly. The music and musicianship of the performers make this production irresistibly appealing to both music lovers and musical theater fans alike. It is truly a love letter to all artists (and their muses), which makes it a fitting end to Theatre Raleigh's strong Summer Series.

ONCE runs through September 16th at The Kennedy Theatre in Downtown Raleigh. For more information visit For a sneak peek at ONCE, check out this preview.

Photo by Jennifer Griffin Robertson. Video by CineMade.

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From This Author Lauren Van Hemert

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