There are truly no words that do what’s going on at the New York Theatre Workshop right now proper justice. I was told by a friend a few weeks ago, “You HAVE to go see this show, ONCE. It’s amazing.” He’d seen it twice in the last week he loved it so much. The experience is unique from the very second you walk in the door to NYTW. The cast, who is also the band (but not in the ridiculous John Doyle way), is playing and performing onstage for about an hour before the show. The theatre and audience is completely alive and really confused as to what they’re about to see (and how will we know when it has started?).
You know though because the characters disperse to their sides of the stage, the lights shift, and our female protagonist makes her way down the house right aisle and onto the stage. Based on a little known 2006 indie film of the same name, Once tells the story of a chance meeting of a musician and a woman who sees his potential, and all that happens in the following week.
Written by bandmates, and former lovers, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova tell their actual story about how they met through song, and combined with movement by Steven Hoggett, John Tiffany’s direction, and Natasha Katz’s moving lighting the story is seamless and gripping. It never feels too long; you’re not waiting for it to be over at any point. Steve Kazee and Cristina Milioti are both fantastic as the main protagonists (who are simply billed in the program as “GUY” and “GIRL”).
The show feels very Spring Awakening For Adults for sure. My experience yesterday felt very reminiscent of when I saw Spring Awakening for the first time at the Atlantic Theatre Company (only I wasn’t sitting onstage, of course). Everyone who was in high school or college when Spring Awakening happened will surely appreciate Once and even those who weren’t apart of it will find themselves falling in love with these characters, music, and this story.
I’ll stop before I say too much and just encourage you to please do yourself a favor and go see it, okay? Click onto NYTW’s website here for more information.