Broadway promotional poster
by John Carney
2013 West End
2013 US Tour
|Awards||Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical
Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album
Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music
Once is a musical stage adaptation based on the 2006 film of the same name. The book was written by Enda Walsh, retaining many of the songs written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, including the Academy Award-winning "Falling Slowly". The musical premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop in 2011, before transferring to Broadway in 2012. The production received eleven 2012 Tony Award nominations, and won eight of those awards 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. It has since spawned a London production, with a US Tour running from 1 October 2013 – 30 September 2014.
In the musical, the cast also serves as the orchestra. A minimalist set is used, including a bar in center stage with chairs lining stage left and right. Exiting cast members simply step to the side of the stage and sit down. They serve as the orchestra from these chairs. The bar is used before the show and at intermission as a working bar for theater patrons.
- 1 Productions
- 2 Plot
- 3 Original Broadway cast
- 4 Musical numbers
- 5 Critical response
- 6 Awards and nominations
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Once premiered in a workshop at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA, in April 2011, before its transfer to New York Theatre Workshop where it made its New York debut on 6 December 2011, following previews from 15 November, on a run through 15 January 2012. Under the direction of John Tiffany, the original cast was led by Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti as Guy and Girl, respectively. The production was nominated for Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Musical (Winner), Outstanding Director, Outstanding Choreographer (Winner), Outstanding Scenic Design (Bob Crowley), Outstanding Lighting Design (Natasha Katz) (Winner), Outstanding Sound Design (Clive Goodwin), and Outstanding Lead Actress. The production won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical.
The musical then began previews on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre from 28 February 2012 and officially opening on 18 March. Kazee and Milioti repeated their performances from the Off-Broadway cast. The production received eleven Tony Award nominations, winning eight, including Best Musical. It also won the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical for 2011–12. On 7 October 2014, it was announced that the musical would close 4 January 2015. By the time of closing, the musical will have played 1,167 regular performances and 22 previews.
Dublin / West End (2013–2015)
Following a limited engagement at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre from 22 February until 9 March 2013, starring Declan Bennett (Guy) and Zrinka Cvitešić (Girl), the show made its West End debut at the Phoenix Theatre, London. Previews began 16 March, which was followed by an 9 April opening night. Bennett and Cvitešić reprise their roles from the Dublin run. Bennett and Cvitešić made an appearance on BBC's The Graham Norton Show for the televised show on 31 May 2013. Prior to an interview, they performed "Falling Slowly". On 15 January 2014, the show was extended to 4 July 2015. Arthur Darvill replaced Bennett as Guy on 17 March 2014 and continued in the role until 10 May 2014.  Cvitešić also left her role as Girl on 10 May. David Hunter and Jill Winternitz currently play Guy and Girl respectively. Ronan Keating will take over the lead role from 17 November 2014 to 21 March 2015, when the production will close.
US Tour (2013–)
On 1 October 2013 the first North American national tour launched in Providence, Rhode Island. Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal play Guy and Girl, respectively. The tour is currently scheduled to run through August 2015.
Melbourne / Australia (2014-2015)
The first Australian production, produced by the Melbourne Theatre Company, premiered on 26 September, 2014, and is scheduled to run through 1 February, 2015. Tom Parsons and Madeleine Jones play Guy and Girl.
- Act I
A thirty-something Dublin busker (identified only as "Guy") sings a heartfelt ballad of unrequited love in a local bar, accompanying himself on guitar ("Leave"). He then puts his guitar in its case and turns to leave without it; but a young Czech woman ("Girl"), who has been listening to him sing, approaches. She asks numerous personal questions about his songs; he replies that he wrote most of them for a girlfriend who broke up with him and moved to New York City. He is giving up on his music because the memories of his defunct relationship are too painful; he now works as a vacuum cleaner repairman in his father's shop. Girl responds that she has a vacuum that "does not suck", and asks him to fix it. She offers to pay for the repair by playing piano for him. Over his protests, she snatches the sheet music for a new song from his jacket. Reluctantly, Guy picks up his guitar and they play the song together ("Falling Slowly"). Girl suggests that he could win his old girlfriend back by singing her that song. Guy brushes this off; but Girl reminds him that he now owes her a vacuum repair, so they head to his father's shop ("The North Strand").
As Guy fixes the vacuum, Girl becomes acquainted with his father, who seems to like her. Once the vacuum is repaired, Guy impulsively invites Girl to his bedroom, above the shop. They are clearly attracted to each other, but when he attempts to kiss her she stops him and leaves ("The Moon"). The next day he apologises, and they write, rehearse and record songs together. Girl introduces Guy to her family, including her young daughter, Ivanka ("Ej, Pada, Pada, Rosicka"). After Guy leaves, Girl plays one of his songs on the piano, substituting her own lyrics as she thinks of him ("If You Want Me").
The next morning Girl tells Guy that she has arranged a meeting with a banker ("Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy"). To persuade the bank manager to approve a loan—which would enable Guy to take his music to New York—Guy plays him a song ("Say It to Me Now"). The banker is impressed with his talent, approves the loan, and adds that he can play guitar as well. He plays a song for them ("Abandoned in Bandon"), and though he is not a very good singer, they invite him to play in the band. The following night at a night club, Guy tells Girl that she has convinced him that his musical career is worth pursuing. Good, she replies, because it is open mic night at the club, and she has signed him up to perform as "The Hoover Man". He is reluctant, but eventually takes the stage. As he sings, it seems that he is now singing to Girl, not his ex-girlfriend ("Gold").
- Act II
During band practice, one of the musicians gets into an argument with the bank manager; he opposes capitalism, he says, despite the fact that he owns the shop where they are rehearsing. Guy and Girl retreat to a hill overlooking the city where the two share a brief, tender moment. Girl tells Guy, in Czech, that she loves him – but when he asks her to translate, she replies, "It looks like rain". Guy realises that he has fallen in love with Girl, and wonders how he will live without her when he moves to New York ("Sleeping").
The next day the band records a demo for a major record label ("When Your Mind's Made Up"). After receiving praise for their performance, the band members take a break. Girl remains at the piano, and thinking she is alone, plays one of her own compositions that reveals the depth of her feelings for Guy ("The Hill"). Guy, who has been listening, compliments her on her song. He suggests that she and Ivanka move to New York with him, because they clearly have feelings for each other that they cannot ignore. Girl answers angrily that he cannot feel that way. Incredulous, Guy asks why; Girl replies that her husband – Ivanka's father – is trying to reconcile with her, and for the sake of their daughter she must consider it ("It Cannot Be About That"). The following morning the band gathers at the hill to voice their hopes for success with the impending album ("Gold (Acapella)"). Guy asks Girl to spend his last night in Dublin with him; she demurs, because it would only result in "hanky-panky", which is a "bad idea"; but ultimately she agrees to come to the vacuum shop.
Back at the shop, Guy plays the demo for his father. Impressed and moved, he gives Guy money to help him get settled in New York. Then Guy, encouraged by Girl, calls his ex-girlfriend in New York, who is happy about his imminent arrival, and seems willing to give their relationship another try. A few days later Girl comes home to find a piano with a bright red bow on it – a gift from Guy. She sheds a few tears, then sits at the piano and sings; as Guy, in his New York apartment, sings the same song ("Falling Slowly (Reprise)").
Original Broadway cast
- Steve Kazee – Guy, guitar
- Cristin Milioti – Girl, piano
- Elizabeth A. Davis – Réza, violin
- David Abeles – Eamon, guitar, piano, melodica, harmonica
- Will Connolly – Andrej, electric bass, ukulele, tambourine, cajon, guitar
- David Patrick Kelly – Da, mandolin
- Anne L. Nathan – Baruška, piano, accordion, concertina, tambourine, melodica
- Lucas Papaelias – Švec, banjo, guitar, mandolin, drum set
- Ripley Sobo / McKayla Twiggs (alternating) – Ivanka
- Andy Taylor – Bank Manager, violin, accordion, cello, guitar, mandolin
- Erikka Walsh – Ex-Girlfriend, violin, mandolin
- Paul Whitty – Billy, guitar, ukulele, cajon, snare drum
- J. Michael Zygo – Emcee, guitar
Notable cast replacements
"Once," the titular song from the movie, was cut from the musical, but has been performed by the cast during special curtain calls, such as when Markéta Irglová visited.
Ben Brantley, in his review of the New York Theatre Workshop production in The New York Times, wrote: "In translating 'Once' into three dimensions, the playwright Enda Walsh and the director John Tiffany haven’t steered clear of what were probably inevitable excesses. The script is now steeped in wise and folksy observations about committing to love and taking chances, most of which are given solemn and thickly accented utterance by Girl (played by Cristin Milioti), who is Czech. Guy, played by Steve Kazee, has been transformed from a shaggy nerd into a figure of leading-man handsomeness, while Girl has turned into a full-fledged version of what she only threatened to be in the film: a kooky, life-affirming waif who is meant to be irresistible ... But a merciful reversal occurs when 'Once' breaks into music, which is often. Characters become less adorably overwrought and more genuinely conflicted, with distinctive personalities instead of standard-issue ones. The songs (written by Mr. Hansard and Ms. Irglova) soar with rough-edged, sweet-and-sad ambivalence that is seldom visited in contemporary American musicals."
Brantley reviewed the Broadway production in The New York Times, writing: "When I first saw the musical 'Once' at the New York Theater Workshop last December, it registered as a little too twee, too conventionally sentimental, for the East Village. Yet on Broadway — at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater to be exact, where 'Once' opened on Sunday night — what is essentially the same production feels as vital and surprising as the early spring that has crept up on Manhattan. And what was always wonderful about 'Once,' its songs and its staging, has been magnified. In the meantime its appealing stars, Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti, have only grown in presence and dimensionality."
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|2012||Tony Award||Best Musical||Won|
|Best Book of a Musical||Enda Walsh||Won|
|Best Actor in a Musical||Steve Kazee||Won|
|Best Actress in a Musical||Cristin Milioti||Nominated|
|Best Featured Actress in a Musical||Elizabeth A. Davis||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||John Tiffany||Won|
|Best Choreography||Steven Hoggett||Nominated|
|Best Orchestrations||Martin Lowe||Won|
|Best Scenic Design||Bob Crowley||Won|
|Best Lighting Design||Natasha Katz||Won|
|Best Sound Design||Clive Goodwin||Won|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||John Tiffany||Won|
|Outstanding Music||Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Design||Clive Goodwin||Nominated|
|Outstanding Orchestrations||Martin Lowe||Won|
|2013||Grammy Award||Best Musical Theater Album||Steve Kazee & Cristin Milioti, principal soloists; Steven Epstein & Martin Lowe, producers (Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, composers/lyricists)||Won|
|2014||Whatsonstage.com Awards||Best New Musical||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Musical||Declan Bennett||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Musical||Zrinka Cvitešić||Nominated|
|Best Director||John Tiffany||Nominated|
|Best Original Music||Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová||Won|
|Laurence Olivier Award||Best New Musical||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Musical||Zrinka Cvitešić||Won|
|Best Set Design||Bob Crowley||Nominated|
|Best Theatre Choreographer||Steven Hoggett||Nominated|
|Best Sound Design||Clive Goodwin||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Music||Martin Lowe, Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová||Won|
- "Once musical moves from Broadway to West End". bbc.co.uk. BBC. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
- "'Once' Listing, New York Theatre Workshop" nytw.org, accessed 16 May 2012
- Hetrick, Adam. "Lucille Lortel Award Nominations Announced; 'Once' and 'Tribes' Lead the Pack" playbill.com, 12 March 2012
- Lipton, Brian Scott. "'Once', 'Sons of the Prophet', 'Tribes' Win New York Drama Critics Circle Awards" theatermania.com, 7 May 2012
- Jones, Kenneth. Once Begins Broadway Run; Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti Play Musicians Who Are "Falling Slowly" playbill.com, 28 February 2012. .
- Gans, Andrew and Jones, Kenneth, Hetrick, Adam. "2012 Tony Awards Nominations Announced; 'Once' Earns 11 Nominations" playbill.com, 1 May 2012
- Gans, Andrew. "'Other Desert Cities', 'Salesman', 'Follies', 'Once', Audra McDonald Are Drama League Winners" playbill.com, 18 May 2012
- "Once confirms West End Transfer for April 2013". westendframe.com. West End Frame. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
- "Arthur Darvill to Lead London Once". officiallondontheatre.co.uk. Official London Theatre. 21 February 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- "David Hunter and Jill Winternitz Lead Once". officiallondontheatre.co.uk. Official London Theatre. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- "RONAN KEATING MAKES DEBUT IN ONCE". officiallondontheatre.co.uk. Official London Theatre. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- "Once to close in March before embarking on European tour". whatsonstage.com. Whats on Stage. 8 October 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- Brantley, Ben. "A Love Affair With Music, Maybe With Each Other" The New York Times, 6 December 2011
- Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review. 'Once,' With Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti, at Jacobs Theater" The New York Times, 18 March 2012
- "The full 2014 WhatsOnStage Awards shortlists". whatsonstage.com. Whats On Stage. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- "Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint win at WhatsOnStage Awards". telegraph.co.uk. The Telegraph. 23 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- "One new musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and one from 30 years ago, Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along, lead the nominations for the 2014 Olivier awards". theguardian.com. The Guardian. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Olivier awards 2014 the full nominations". theguardian.com. The Guardian. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- Once at Internet Broadway Database
- Once at Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Once at Playbill Vault
- Official Site