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NME After Print: Once is a musical treasure (Review)

Irish music played as you walked into Popejoy Hall. On the stage, a crowd of people gathered - some musicians and some ticket holders - enjoying the celebratory environment. It was a terrific way to get audience members excited for the musical Once, making a debut at Popejoy and running from March 8th-13th. Soon I realized that the musicians are the show. After performing a few numbers, Guy (Sam Cieri) begins to perform “Leave”. I was so taken by the song that I almost didn’t notice the lights dimming - letting me know that I was watching the opening number.

Once is a love story of boy meets girl - full of pain, happiness and stubbornness. Guy meets Girl (Mackenzie Lesser-Roy) and completely turns his life around after making the decision to no longer pursue music. But Guy is not the only one dealing with the struggles of love. Girl is keeping a few secrets of her own. But the connection between the two is strong, inspiring beautiful music throughout the show. The moment they performed “Falling Slowing”, tears are flowing in the audience, including myself.

This show is what you’d expect from a Tony® Award-winning musical. Everyone who stepped on that stage was a triple-threat; beautiful with movement, song and acting. Besides the leads, Cieri and Lesser-Roy, Liam Fennecken and Marlene Ginader were amazing standouts as Svec (Fennecken), the Bohemian bar owner who earned plenty of laughs throughout the show and Réza (Ginader), the feisty Ukrainian beauty who knows how to get what she wants. Patricia Bartlett who played Baruska was a hell of an actress, providing a grounding for this cast of bold characters. The show also had plenty of breakout numbers including “Gold”, “When Your Mind’s Made Up” and the hilarious song “Abandoned in Bandon.”

Once is a musical for the ages. This show has something for everyone and you will leave the theater feeling like, The Beatles said, all you need is love. If you haven’t seen it, buy your tickets now to experience it. The music alone is outstanding, so you are in for a real treat!

tWitch Cover Story
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