I was given tickets to see this show by the kind people at ACMN. They also supplied the photographs. All opinions are my own.
I have this thing, I don't like to listen to the soundtrack of a musical before I actually see it on a stage. Lots of people I know much prefer to know what they're in for, so to speak, but I like to discover the music while I'm watching the story unfold before my eyes. In the case of Once, I had heard the music before, when I watched the film, but it still didn't take away from the magic that happened on that stage in the Princess Theatre last night.
I was offered tickets to opening night and I couldn't refuse, even though we have already paid for our own tickets to see later this month. Since booking our tickets, I watched the film. I will admit to thinking we had made a terrible mistake, as the film really is quite ordinary.
This musical however, is something truly special.
If your seats are in the stalls, you can go on the stage before the show and at interval and buy a drink at the bar. If, like me, you are not in the stalls, you can watch this happen. Cast members are there to entertain you. This made the actual start of the show a bit odd. The audience left the stage, the cast kept performing and then in the middle of a song, the lights went down. Strange start to a show! This also caused the first half to feel quite long.
Unlike conventional musicals, the songs in Once don't really tell the story, but they are a very important part of this musical. And they are performed beautifully. I have no idea how the man playing the cello was able to spin and keep playing, but he did.
Despite the first half feeling long, I was entranced from the moment it started. I didn't want it to end. I had no idea it would be so funny. And have such clever staging. (The bar seamlessly became a piano shop, a house, a bank and at one point, a beach!) The fact that every single member of the cast sang, acted and played at least one instrument was brilliant.
And then in the second half, they did an a Capella reprise of 'Gold'. I think my heart may have skipped several beats. It was absolutely stunning. You could have heard a pin drop.
This is a truly amazing show. I can see why it won a Tony award for Best Musical and a heap of other awards all around the world. It's not filled with high energy dance numbers, flashy lighting or special effects. It has heart, it has soul. It's unlike anything I've ever seen before. You really should go and see it.
Once is playing at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne until December 2014. You can buy tickets from here.