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Once at The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch | Review

L-R Daniel Healy & Emma Lucia - Once - Photo credit Mike Kwasniak
L-R Daniel Healy & Emma Lucia – Once – Photo credit Mike Kwasniak

It wasn’t long ago that the music stopped playing in the West End for Once. The production finished after two successful years. At first, it seemed a little too soon for the famous Irish musical to be playing again – the original production was iconic, game-changing and mesmerising in the world of musical theatre. But with a new creative team and a fresh take on the show, the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch (alongside The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich) show that this regional premiere is in capable hands and makes a fine night at the theatre.

Once, based on the 2007 independent film, centres on two individuals whose paths collide through musical. Our main duo are Guy and Girl (we never know their names) and Girl comes across Guy busking, falling in love with his music but also senses his pain. She soon realises that Guy is dealing with a break-up and wants to give up music entirely, as his past love was his muse. Girl encourages Guy to keep going and sees real potential in him. Within a story spanning only a few days, the two connect and Guy rediscovers his love for music and perhaps discovers something new along the way.

With music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, Once’s score always tugs at the heartstrings. The folk music melodies and actor-muso cast are the pull for this production – and this cast doesn’t disappoint. Daniel Healy plays Guy and he’s had a fair bit of experience in the role, understudying it in the West End. Healy is a very talented musician and plays Guy with a charming sincerity. Emma Lucia is stunning as Girl. In a role which won Zrinka Cvitesic an Olivier, it’s hard to not compare but Lucia holds her own and is the standout performer. Her endearing demeanour and distinctive vocals make her all the more of a joy to watch. The multi-talented cast all have their chances to shine and bring their own to the stage as well.

The show is very similar to how I remembered the original production. Libby Watson’s set isn’t as minimal as Bob Crowley’s original but it’s equally as appealing. Peter Rowe’s direction and Francesca Jaynes’ choreography can be busy or rushed at times when the show calls for intricate choices and more still direction. But still the heart of this show beats strong and those unaware of this show, I implore you to see it. It will be a new favourite. The production is at The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch until the end of the month – do I hear of a tour following after? I certainly hope so.

4 stars

Review by Tomm Ingram

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and the New Wolsey Ipswich present the UK regional premiere of
ONCE
Book by Enda Walsh
Music and Lyrics Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
Director Peter Rowe
Designer Libby Watson
Musical Director Ben Goddard
Sound Designer James Cook
Lighting Designer Mark Dymock
Choreography Francesca Jaynes

A guy, a girl and the song that brought them together.
Winner of eight Tony Awards® in 2012, including Best Musical, ONCE tells the unforgettable story of a Dublin street musician and a funny Czech woman, drawn together by their shared love of music. As they assemble a band from her wild family and his quirky mates, the music flows and they fall slowly in love.

From the producers of Made in Dagenham, an ensemble of actor-musicians ‎play their instruments live on stage, in a smash hit romantic show that steals your heart, based on the Academy Award-winning film.

ONCE‎ is about what happens when you take chances and go for your dreams.
Performed by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Ltd
https://www.queens-theatre.co.uk/

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