Venue: Grand Opera House, York
Dates: Until Saturday, February 8
Review by: Julia Pattison
Once was definitely not enough for me to see this most unusual, bitter-sweet Musical, based on the Motion Picture written and directed by John Carney.
“Once is truthful and bare, with the most heart-wrenching music you’ll ever hear” says actress Emma Lucia, playing ‘Girl’ in the 2020 UK tour of Once, and she’s spot on.
The story line is beautiful, which is very apt considering Emma has performed in Beautiful, the Musical about Carole King; she reminded me of Carole King pouring passion into playing the piano.
I loved the fluidity of the music driving along the deceptively simple story of Girl meets Guy (Daniel Healy).
All the cast gathered on stage before the official start time, and it was as if we were all in some Lock In, in an Irish pub with talented musicians and a “flowing bowl”, with the action then beginning seamlessly.
Enda Walsh wrote the book, and the combination of a story that everyone can relate to, haunting harmonies and tunes, and a talented actor/musician cast made this Musical a winner.
There was lots of humour featuring the Irish/Czech clash between the two protagonists, alongside the poignancy of love across barriers and borders. There was even a playful swipe at Ronan Keating’s expense, which earned a chuckle from a rapt audience.
There were some outstanding performances from the cast, who moved like a shoal at times on stage, then you were suddenly aware of a stunning solo performance. Dan Bottomley shone in his role of Billy, the Music Shop owner, as did Lloyd Gorman playing Svec who was full of surprises!
Great performance too from Samuel Martin in his rendition of Abandoned In Brandon, as the Bank Manager desperate to impress.
I liked the way too, that the cast were like a family, with a range of ages, and everyone played their part, experience guiding youth, and youth showing respect and appreciation of a helping hand given practically and/or financially; it really did tug at your heart strings.
It was the music though, and the superb delivery of it, from ballads such as “Falling Slowly” to full blown company performances of numbers like, “ When Your Mind’s made Up ”, that lifted you up, and wrapped you in a comforting cocoon – magic!
Emma and Dan were brilliantly cast as ‘Guy’ and ‘Girl’, and you were totally immersed in their story from the minute they met on stage.
I will say this only Once, don’t miss this amazing show!