This is my fourth time writing about the musical Once, so I'm not going to tell you again about my love for the movie, Glen Hansard, and Ireland, or my thoughts on the adaptation (you can read all about that here). Although I will share this description of the plot from one of my past posts: "The story is simple and quiet - boy meets girl, boy fixes girl's Hoover, girl encourages boy to record his songs and follow his dreams, boy and girl go on with their separate lives, better for having met one another." It's an atypical love story about an Irish street musician and a young Czech woman who meet when both are at a crossroads in life, and help each other through to the other side. It's a story of connection, music, and community in which not a whole lot happens, except that everyone is changed.
|when girl met guy (Britta Ollmann and Ben Bakken)|
(photo by Dan Norman)
|the ensemble (photo by Dan Norman)|
Michael Hoover's set is "reminiscent of a train station" (as noted by Peter Rothstein in the program, which as usual contains much interesting dramaturgical information). Characters and scenes move in and out of the space, which includes a second level. Choreographer Kelli Foster Warder has imbued movement into the piece that feels like an extension of the soul of the music. And speaking of music, be sure to get there early. The ensemble begins playing traditional Irish music a half hour before showtime (and there is Guinness at the concession stand in the lobby, natch).
I'll leave you with more words I've written about this show in the past, that still hold true. The lovely, funny, moving, and musically rich Once continues at the Ritz Theater in Northeast Minneapolis through October 21.
"Unlike what Hollywood and Broadway usually tell us, not everyone gets a happily ever after kind of love, and maybe that's not even the ideal kind of love to strive for. If we're lucky, we get an hour, or a day, or a week-long encounter with someone who changes our life and pushes us forward when we've become "stopped." Maybe that's what life is, a series of moments, encounters, relationships, that might not last a lifetime although their effects do. That's what this story is about, and that's what these two people do for each other. It's a perfect love story, even though it may not end in the way that we're taught to expect. And it's also a love story about Ireland and its rich and unique culture, that the girl describes as "speaking and singing of what it is to be human." She tells the guy that he has "heart and soul," and this unique music-theater creation has heart and soul in spades, and speaks and sings of what it is to be human, with all the heartbreak, joy, disappointment, passion, connection, difficulties, and wonder it entails."