When I heard that Once The Musical was coming to the West End in London, I was well excited. I was looking forward to see how a film adaption is transferred to a musical adaption. It’s a musical that’s been out since April 2013 in London and after months and months of wanting to see it, I’ve finally got to see it in the theatre this month.
For those who know little about this, Once The Musical is a based on an 2007 Irish film of the same name (which is brilliant), and it’s about an Irish guy who’s a busker inspiring to be a musician, who later meets a Czech girl in a street who was impressed with his singing who’s also a musician and a pianist and they have a bond over their love of music through songs. It was a film that was successful as it was highly favourable in the US and it won an Oscar for Best Original Song for the song “Falling Slowly.” For this musical adaptation, written for stage by playwright Edna Walsh and directed by John Tiffany, offers a simple but moving and effective musical.
When Ronan Keating was announced as Guy for the musical from November 2014, I think it would be an interesting role for him to take as musicians who decided to be actors, sometimes don’t perform to the acting standard. For his acting role in the West End, Keating delivers a fine, inspiring performance and that would surprise a few people. He shows vulnerability when a man is washed up in bar before Girl (Jill Winternitz) pops up in where she’s approvals his singing and it gives him some hope. A few minutes into meeting, there’s a hilarious moment between the pair in where a vacuum cleaner is involved.
Jill Winternitz’s performance as Girl is quirky and impressive and as a result she outshines as Keating in most parts which leads him to be a passenger and with that you see his vulnerability. After all, this is his first West End role. However, vulnerability can be a good thing for Keating as he displays this when he is singing and he sings effortlessly especially in the scene, in where himself, Wintermitz and the supporting cast are outstanding when singing to someone who’s in the music business.
And there’s a mention of the supporting cast as when you at a theatre, you normally see the orchestra playing the music for the cast so it was unusual and a surprise when the actors are also musicians as they play the piano, guitars, drums, violins you name it and it was wonderfully played.
Once is not a traditional love story. It’s a love story in where people have a connection over their love for music and you can see it from the stage. However despite great performances from Keating and Winternitz, the connection is not efficient between the pair. In the original film, you can feel the spark and chemistry between Hansard and Irglova and it was special and from the musical, it’s not recuperated.
But it’s only a small criticism as the musical makes up for it with funny and hilarious moments as mention before. Tim Prottery-Jones and David Mehmet provide the biggest laughs in their roles and unlike the original film, it’s refreshing to have this in the musical. And of course the music is memorising and uplifting. It’s something in where it’s deserved to be applauded.
It’s a heart-warming, captivating, delightful musical in where you should see this more than once. If you watched it and you were unsure, see it again. It will change your view but make sure you see it before it ends on 21 March. You may regret it.