I finally saw Once the Musical. It was the only show nominated for the Best New Musical Tony that I hadn’t seen, and I was going to be so upset if I didn’t get to see it. But I have!
I ‘ve been wanting to see Once since I first started to hear about it, even though from what I was hearing, it didn’t sound like my “style” of a musical. I knew that it was going to be competition for the Best New Musical Tony Awards, and was I right! The show got 11 Tony nominations!
I finally got the chance to try to rush Once on May 17. I was incredibly unsuccessful. I got there around 9am, and let me tell you, that was WAAAAAYYYY too late. I barely made it halfway through the line before they sold out of tickets. I tried again on May 18, getting to the theatre around 7:30 am. I was still too late, but this time I made it up to the door before they ran out of tickets. At that point, I no longer had opportunities to rush in May. I was left with the first two Saturdays in June as my last chance to see the show before the awards. I made a plan.
Saturday June 2, we would leave the house by 5:30 am. Taking into account the changed MTA Subway schedule, we would get to the theatre around 6:30. We would get tickets!
And so bright and early on Saturday morning, I made sure Kenny and Chris got up, and we headed out…without Chris. He would meet us at the station since he had to get ready for graduation later that morning.
We all jumped on the Subway train, and we did indeed get to the theatre around 6:30am. And we waited in line for the next 3.5 hours. The shocker? There were easily 10-15 people in front of us. How early do you people get there!?!?!
10am came, and went. And then tickets were in our hot little hands! We did it! We won!!! It was really exciting and Kenny and I rushed to the subway to get home as quickly as possible…we were gonna need some rest to stay up for the show after such an early morning.
We all met up again in front of the theatre around 7:30, and we watched everyone get into line to enter, and finally joined them after we met a really awesome guy who had a SRO ticket.
We stopped at a bar on our way in, since the stage looked super crowded, and settled into our seats to enjoy the show. The nice thing about Once is that they all play music on stage during the half hour before the show actually starts. The bad thing about that is that you can’t really tell when the show is starting, except for the fact that the ushers run up and down the aisles shouting at people to put away their phones and sit down, because the show is starting. I’ll be honest. This put the show into a bad spot for me. It was extremely difficult to listen to the music while the ushers were talking to people, and it was distracting that you could see everyone who had come in late get seated because the house lights were still up. In fact, the house lights stayed up until halfway through the third song, Steve Kazee singing “Falling Slowly” (hear the song here) when they finally dimmed down.
The book was quite good. I think I’ll be laughing at the “I’m always serious. I’m Czech.” joke for quite some time. Oh, and “let’s make a whole f***ing album.” There were several fun and entertaining moments in the story, and many of the characters were wonderful. I think it felt weird that some of the ensemble characters were given names as the story progressed, but Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti both remained “Guy” and “Girl,” but it did help that most of the names were not really memorable.
I didn’t like that the scene changes relied so heavily on the book. Most of the time, I wasn’t convinced they ever left the bar, except for something they said. The only scene that really felt like it wasn’t in the bar was when Guy and Girl are out looking over Dublin. Though it felt like they were in the bar for most of the show, the lighting was awesome. They did such a great job with the back lighting and focusing the audience’s attention on what was happening. The lighting was just fabulous, especially in the Overlooking Dublin scene. I think they deserve the lighting design Tony for that scene alone. It was really amazing how suddenly I felt like I was overlooking the town, with the water nearby, and the little city lights twinkling in the evening. As for the other scenes, I think that if a few of the sets moved up a foot, or a foot and a half, with the combination of the lighting, it would have felt more like they left the bar. I think that seeing the backdrop of the bar with all the mirrors was my scene change issue. The only time choreography really came into play was in the scene changes, and they did a good job with it, but I don’t really think it’s Tony Award worthy. I think it was unique, and a little different, but I didn’t find it overly impressive.
The music is good. I did enjoy many of the songs, and they really do a really phenomenal job with the harmonies. It’s not the typical sound of a musical, and for some people, that makes all the difference. However, I didn’t feel like the music was moving the story along. To me, it felt more like a play with music than an actual musical. This idea, however, definitely comes from my preconceived notions of what makes a musical. I never really consider something about music to be a musical unless there are significantly more songs that move the story than there are ones they perform (if that makes any sense). Basically, I felt like a lot of the music was being performed by the cast for people in the cast, and it wasn’t out of place (like Newsies singing in the streets. Let’s be honest, we know that never really happened, but that’s sort of what makes it a musical).
The cast did a great job expressing emotions, and their accents were spot-on. They are all extraordinarily talented and I loved that they were the orchestra too. It really was phenomenal. Even better was greeting them all at the stage door afterwards. They were really friendly, and asked questions of the fans out there. I was excited to meet Steve Kazee because his #SIP (Saturday Intermission Pictures) are some of the best, which I assure you, I told him. We got to talk about it for a little bit. If you have any doubt about his #SIP pictures, look below:
He is really amazing! I was also excited about getting to meet Cristin Milioti because a) she is amazing and b) she went to high school with one of my really good friends (Sara Linton). In fact, she remembers Sara, because they did some shows together in high school, and She said that Sara is an amazing woman (she is! She is one of my inspirations and mentors!). I think this means that Sara needs to come to NYC and see the show so they can have a little reunion!
All in all, Once the Musical is not your typical musical. It’s good, and I think there are a lot (seriously, A LOT) of people out there who would really enjoy it. Even though I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be my favorite musical (hello, I am a FANSIE! That honor will always go to Newsies), I still thought it was a good show, and I knew it would be a good one to drag Kenny to (he loved it). I’ll definitely make sure to recommend the show to everyone who, like Kenny, might not go see a show, but will love it (heck, I’ll even recommend it to people who might like it, too). I probably won’t go see it again, unless someone really wants me to go with them, because I’m a volunteer and can’t really afford a full price ticket, and that early morning rush is way too early for me. At any rate, I’m glad I got to see it once.
- Perez Reviews: Once! (perezhilton.com)
- ‘Once’ more, as best musical? (csmonitor.com)
- Once, the Musical (brooklynvegan.com)
- ‘Once’ A New Musical: Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre – Broadway (Review) (popmatters.com)
- Theater Review: ‘Once,’ With Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti, at Jacobs Theater (theater.nytimes.com)