Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Theater Review: Once

Once in a While, a Broadway Show is Magic
By Lauren Yarger
The low-budget motion picture "Once," which won a 2007 Academy Award for music-and-lyric team Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova for their song "Falling Slowly," has been recreated for the Broadway stage in a wonderfully rich, soul-stirring musical that makes us want to see it more than once.

Enda Walsh writes the book for the stage version of the film written and directed by John Carney that tells the story of a Dublin songwriter and the woman who inspires him. Directed here by John Tiffany with fanciful, tale-propelling choreography by Steven Hoggett and Musical Supervision by Martin Lowe,  the actors/musicians assume roles at various locations (with lighting and sound by Natasha Katz and Clive Goodwin that help define them) or take seats along the perimeter of the set, which resembles an Irish pub (Bob Crowley designs it and the costumes). The pub is decorated with picture frames and mirrors, the largest of which reflects a portion of the audience up into the action on stage (the audience also is invited up on stage pre-show and during intermission for a little party).

The songwriter, defined only as Guy (Steve Kazee), is at the end of hope. His love has left him for America and his song-writing career isn't going anywhere. About to give up, he meets a blunt-talking, no-nonsense Czech Girl (Christin Milioti) who inspires him to take up his guitar again.

The two bond on a very deep level, despite the fact that Guy hopes to pursue his lost love to America and Girl, raising her little daughter Ivanka (Ripley Sobo) with the help of her family, is married to an absentee husband. Inspired by Guy's music, Girl writes some lyrics to unfinished pieces and convinces Guy he must perform it. Over five days, they collaborate and record a demo CD. Assisting them are Billy (Paul Whitty), who, smitten with Girl, allows her to play a piano in his music shop, a banker (Andy Taylor), who is moved by Girl's persuasive plea and funds the recording session, and Guy's Da (David Patrick Kelly), who helps his son get to New York.

The memorable, soul-touching catchy tunes, thoroughly developed characters (even the minor ones) and a heartwarming story dotted with delightful humor all blend to make this a ballet of love and hope that you'll want to enjoy more than once.

The ensemble is top-notch and Kazee and Milioti blend beautifully on duets (though it is very hard to here Milioti on solos). Milioti's delightful, full-of-life character who repeatedly assures everyone she is serious about her big plans and dreams -- "I'm Czech; I am always serious -- is one of the most memorable to grace a Broadway stage.

Once plays at the Bernard B. Jacobs theatre, 242 West 45th St., NYC. Tickets: 212-239-6200 or  800- 432-7250.

Christians might also like to know:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Language
-- Sexual dialogue

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Lauren, my sister and i finally got down to New York to see "Once". Spellbinding! We loved the choreographed scene changes and the simply mesmerizing set. And yes, every individual character has enough depth for his/her own 2-hour play. And what a lovely theatre!


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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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