Once the Musical has been delighting audiences at the Phoenix Theatre on Charing Cross road for the past two years, but sadly the time has come to say goodbye to this beautiful musical. Winner of 8 Tony’s, 2 Olivier's and a Grammy, Once became a hit in quick time. For it’s UK run Doctor Who’s Arthur Darvill wowed audiences with his portrayal of the moody Irish musician known only as ‘Guy’ and he has been widely considered as the best in the role, making more women swoon than when Zayn hits the high notes with One Direc… Sorry, too soon? But speaking of pop stars, Once finished it’s run with ex Boyzoner Ronan Keating performing to sell out audiences.
The show takes place in Dublin, Ireland and follows the story of a thirty something busker and his unrequited romance with a young Czech woman. The fact that this is not an out and out love story is quite refreshing, they both have respective partners that we never see and find each other quite by chance forming a firm friendship.
With a superb selection of characters played by incredibly talented performers who also play the music for the entire show, I’m more than a little jealous! Every character is portrayed with fines and keeps you grounded in a very real world, with wonderful moments of comedy that warms the heart at every turn.
I had seen the same cast before with ITV’s Superstar semi-finalist David Hunter in the lead role and was impressed with how well he coped with taking on the role after Darvill’s enigmatic performance, bringing something of his own to the part. His leading lady, Jill Winternitz as ‘the Girl’, also took up the mantle extremely well and her performance was simply stunning. Funny and heartfelt, Winternitz takes you on a roller coaster throughout the show with nuances that deserve a lot more acclaim than she has received, as she is an accomplished performer.
To finish up the run of this stunning musical was Ronan Keating, he certainly looks the part and you would think a moody Irishman character with a smooth singing voice would be perfect… Wouldn't you? Unfortunately Keating is not an actor, now before I get lynched by many screaming fans I will say this was his first time out. Fair enough, I wasn’t expecting his acting to be top notch as it’s a difficult thing to get up on a West End stage first time out of the gate.
His awkward performance actually gave the character something quite fresh which I enjoyed in places, but for a singer I did expect a little more. I thought his particular song styling would stand him in good stead for this show but it was a little lacking, with other members of cast clearing holding back to help him out. There were points in some of the hit songs such as ‘Gold’, Falling Slowly’ and ‘When Your Mind’s Made Up’ where we completely lost him altogether.
Once is a warm and uplifting show, a perfect evenings entertainment and bound to make you feel good about life. It was a shame however to finish without the big and surprising performance that Arthur Darvill gave us. My star rating is based on the show itself and not that final performance as I feel it deserves better,, Had I not seen previous casts this would have been a lot lower!
Hopefully this will be heading out on tour soon with another stellar cast. I am excited to see who follows in it’s footsteps with this kind of wonderful, heartfelt and personal show; who knows maybe shows like this do come around more than ’Once’…
Review by Shane Goodsir.
Want us to review your work? Get in touch on the Contact page!
© ActingHour™ 2017.
All Rights Reserved.