Theater Review: Once

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Once, the Tony Award-winning musical, is at TPAC's Jackson Hall, Sept. 16 - 21.

Breathtaking songs, a believable storyline and the power of music to connect the human heart is paramount in this once-in-a-lifetime musical. A great date night for parents!

TPAC’s Broadway Series presents:
Once (Sept. 16 – 21; Ages 12 and older)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
782-4040 •
Show times: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 and 8 p.m., Sun 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $37.50 – $72.50

A fantastic Tony Award-winning musical graces the stage of TPAC’s Jackson Hall this week opening the venue’s 2014 – 2015 Broadways series, Once. Having received 12 Tony Award nominations in 2012, Once snagged eight wins, including “Best Musical.”

This stage adaptation, based on John Carney’s 2006 movie of the same name, features a book by Enda Walsh with music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. The cast in this touring production brilliantly plays out the story of unrequited love and passion for music. In fact, all of the cast members serve as the actual musicians in the show whether they take spots center stage or exist on the sides of the simple set that doubles as a bar and music shop during the production.

Prior to the actual start of the show, many of the cast members are already on stage performing a variety of songs, including traditional Irish folk tunes (the musical’s setting is Dublin, Ireland). In fact, theater goers can even head up onto the stage to rub elbows with them.

Stuart Ward is dashing in the lead role of “Guy,” a 30-something Dublin man who fixes vacuum cleaners in his father’s shop and is a musical street performer on the side. A real-life singer/songwriter, Ward has several credits on London’s West End. A skilled guitarist and singer, Ward perfectly characterizes Guy’s melancholy demeanor over an “unfinished” love who has left him and Ireland for New York City, evident in his opening number, “Leave.”

Dani de Waal — whose theater credits include Broadway, West End and Edinburgh Fringe — plays “Girl,” the feisty, young piano-playing Czech woman who captures Guy’s attention (and heart) through a shared love of music and creating it together. De Waal plays her character with deft, matter-of-fact precision that often comes with a lot of humor. She also has a stunning vocal talent, and de Waal succinctly exudes the passion behind the lyrics she sings.

Together, Ward and de Waal’s vocals blend beautifully throughout their shared numbers, most notable in the breathtaking Oscar-winning ballad, “Falling Slowly.” This duo offers up pure folk/pop bliss. While all of the musical numbers are wonderful, a particular nod goes to the entire company’s a capella rendition of “Gold” in Act II. Tight harmonies and a powerful delivery make this one of the most memorable vocal events on stage.

The relationship between Guy and Girl is a complicated one in that she is the one encouraging him to pursue his music career and to follow his heart to New York to reunite with his former girlfriend while at the same time she has secretly fallen in love with him. The incredible on-stage chemistry between Ward and de Waal allows this rub to play out in a believable manner.

While this fabulous show isn’t geared toward young children (there’s some mature language throughout, and youngsters won’t necessarily follow the storyline), Once is a perfect parents’ night out date this week.


Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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