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ONCE Shea's Smith Theatre/MusicalFare
May 5, 2024, 14:05
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Through May 19
ONCE Shea’s 710 Theatre/MusicalFare Theatre

By Augustine Warner

“Once” is filled with good music and strong dancing and there is a plot in there somewhere.
The best description is: Boy meets Girl.
That’s The Guy (Steve Copps) and The Girl (Renee Landrigan).
He’s a frustrated musician and busker who spends his time lamenting a lack of success and working in his father’s vacuum repair shop and living with Da (Robert Insana) in Dublin, Ireland.
She’s a very musical Czech refugee with a young daughter, Ivanka, (Arden Kacala) and an estranged husband.
What’s unique about this show is the bar across the back of the stage, open to the cast and the ticket purchasers when the cast is off-stage.
It’s also important in the show.
What is common to MusicalFare although not common on other area stages is a cast which also plays instruments while dancing and marching across the state.
Even music director Theresa Quinn is on stage with an accordion, clearly keys a lot smaller than her usual piano work.
Michael Oliver-Walline’s choreography is interesting and different.
The Guy has lost a female love and wants to go to New York City to re-find her and play the music he’s written to her.
The Girl recognizes the value of the music and helps him by being his piano accompanist, while clearly falling in love with him.
She can’t go any further because of that husband, “It Cannot Be About That.”
The Guy has a lot of support for his quest to make music his career, even more than his life.
That includes his buddies at Gilmore’s Pub, as well as his band.
The Girl arranges with a bank manager to loan The Guy the money to go to New York, “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy.”
The script has several opportunities for The Guy to realize The Girl is pretty good with music also, with Landrigan playing the piano and singing her own compositions, like “The Hill.”
It’s not a happy ending, except perhaps musically since that ending has The Guy in NYC and The Girl in Dublin, both playing “Falling Slowly (Reprise).”
This is all a fun show and very well done.
It’s also more relaxed than most since you could look toward the bar and see director Kramer talking to customers bellied up to the fancy wood establishment.
“Once” works because of the basic material but also because Kramer and Oliver-Walline have cast the show so well, particularly Copps, Landrigan, John Kaczorowski and Insana.
This isn’t a standard Irish show, with Americans seeing a bunch of guys in Aran Island sweaters singing traditional revolutionary songs.
Instead, it’s music written just for this show from Irish roots and some Czech-based music for The Girl.
See “Once.”

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