Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Opinions are my own.
I’ve never seen anything quite like Once.
No orchestra. No elaborate sets. Want to jump on stage, visit the pub where the musical is set, buy a drink, and mingle with the cast? Go ahead, just make sure you do it before the show starts or during intermission.
The show weaves the tale of Guy and Girl (we never learn their real names) as they crash into each others lives and change them forever. Guy is a Hoover fixer and musician who begins the show heartbroken and in pieces as his girlfriend has moved to far away from his home and the setting of the show, Dublin. Girl is a Czech who has immigrated to Dublin and is instantly drawn to Guy’s haunting last song. She insists that it not be his last song.
She gets her way.
The Celtic folk rock music is a highlight of the entire show. While there is no orchestra, there are musicians on stage, integrated into the show itself. They play instruments like the banjo, guitar, violin, and other less traditional instruments in a way that breathes life into the background of the show. But then that background becomes the foreground as those same musicians are the supporting cast. The choreography that drives the transitions from background to foreground is masterful.
The chemistry between Guy and Girl is something even better. Guy is often awkward while Girl is often overly straightforward. It’s a combination that leaves the audience in stitches. The hilarity that is woven through the entire show is a perfect complement to the complexity that is Guy and Girl’s story. They could end up living a perfect romantic dream, but things aren’t quite that simple.
Will they live happily ever after? Maybe, but not in a way that you would imagine as you sit engrossed in the show.
Once is the rare musical that I could watch again and again and again. And again. Everything about it was unexpected yet fantastic. The music has already made its way onto my play list, the characters seem like friends who I’ve known for years, and the entire show has catapulted to the top of my list of favorite Broadway shows.
Once is in Pittsburgh through March 16th. Tickets are $29-$80 and available here.
While you’re there, say hi to Guy and Girl for me.