The smash-hit and critically acclaimed musical ONCE arrived in Calgary at The Southern Jubilee Auditorium last night, and will play until November 8th. Full disclosure, I’ve seen the show four times (and this tour once before) so this provided a unique opportunity to re-visit it from another frame of mind and stage in my life.
I was fortunate enough to see the Original Broadway Cast perform in NYC, and subsequently saw the touring cast as well as the Toronto cast and every time I have discovered something new to appreciate and enjoy is this beautifully nuanced piece.
One of the things that makes me love theatre so much is the fact that it’s so intimate – you experience things with a live performance that you will never experience with film. The mood of the audience, the energy of the performers, the venue a show is in… these all contribute to the visceral reaction you can have when you experience a show for the first time.
It’s this communal reaction that caught me off guard at the opening night in Calgary, and I believe it was due to the fact that for the first time in a long time, I was seeing the show in a house full of people who had never experienced it. The energy of the audience coupled with the fact that due to a having had a particularly difficult year, I found myself relating to the material in a deeper way. This combination made for an incredible and electric evening of theatre.
I saw this particular touring production at The Royal Alex in Toronto a little over two years ago, and I’m happy to report that they’re still a fresh and incredibly cohesive bunch of performers. Stuart Ward’s “Guy” is heartbreaking, he has an ability to exude vulnerability while maintaining a tough exterior and that combination makes it easy to empathize and relate to him (and to the feelings that come with having a broken heart). Dani De Waal’s “Girl” is surprisingly hilarious and gut wrenching at the same time. Her character gets some of the best lines of dialogue which she delivers perfectly and her voice soars – her rendition of “The Hill” will bring a tear to even the most cynical eye.
The magic of Once is it’s simplicity – it doesn’t rely on fancy special effects or over the top musical numbers to draw you in. Instead it focuses its attention on the players. The story of Guy & Girl and the people who surround them come to life with each carefully thought out movement, musical note or lyric. At its core, it is about love, loss and finding your way back from devastation.
You don’t need to have a broken heart to appreciate the beauty that is Once. Anyone who has ever lost something will relate and empathize to the music and the characters. But if you have had a broken heart, you might just find inspiration within the story. Just as Girl inspires Guy to become ‘un-stopped’, this particular show has the ability to help re-ignite the light inside all of us.
I walked out of the show with tears in my eye remembering exactly why I love the theatre, and why when everything else in my life falls apart, it is what I always come back to. That’s the magic of the arts – good art reminds you who you are and helps you to never forget to find and follow your love – whatever that love is.
When and Where?
Once The Musical – On Tour
The Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
On now until November 8th
For more information or to purchase tickets please visit: http://calgary.broadway.com/tickets/show/7866