ONCE at the NAC. A charming love story that would work better in a more intimate setting.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo Joan Marcus.

The opening of a mirrored live bar on stage as a means of bringing down the theatrical fourth wall is a gimmick with limited appeal. Once is certainly enough and has even less appeal during the intermission.

Like the large venue, the crowded pub look hurts rather than helps the intimate tone of what should be a chamber musical.

Having said this, Once still has considerable charm as a love story — or, more accurately, a story about love and commitment. It is harder to convey the ambience in this type of stage setting than it is through the flexibility of film, but there are quiet moments or more gentle songs when the intimate nature of the storyline is front and centre as the two principals Guy (played on opening night by Ryan Link) and Girl (Dani de Waal) try not to talk about falling in love and to remain focused on making music and being true to their responsibilities.

Because of the special nature of the show, the performers must — and do — display talent in four fields. In addition to the regular musical triple threat of acting, singing and dancing, they must also be able to play various musical instruments. The standout among a solid ensemble is Donna Garner, believable as Girl’s mother, and at ease on the accordion and concertina while she dances and sings.

As Girl, de Waal is businesslike and bubbly, while Link, as Guy, manages to make a slightly tentative characterization a reasonable interpretation of a man at one of life’s crossroads.

In general, after a raucous beginning, Once settles into a pleasant rhythm with some special moments. But there is always the sense that it would fare better in a smaller venue where it really belongs.

Once continues at the National Arts Centre to October 26, 2014.

 

Once

Book by Edna Walsh

Music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglová

Based on the motion picture written and directed by John Carney

Broadway Across Canada

at the National Arts Centre

Director: John Tiffany

Music supervisor: Martin Lowe

Set and costumes: Bob Crowley

Lighting: Natasha Katz

Movement: Steven Hoggett

Dance captain: Erica Swindell

Music captain: John Steven Gardner

Resident music supervisor: Fred Lassen

Cast:

Girl………………………………………………..Dani de Waal (piano)

Svec……………………………………………….Matt DeAngelis (guitar, mandolin, banjo, drums, percussion)

Eamon…………………………………………….John Steven Gardner (piano, guitar, percussion, melodica, harmonica)

Baruska……………………………………………Donna Garner (accordion, concertina)

Billy……………………………………………….Evan Harrington (guitar, percussion, ukulele)

Emcee……………………………………………..Zander Meisner (guitar, banjo)

Bank manager……………………………………..Benjamin Magnuson (Cello, guitar)

Andrej……………………………………………..Alex Nee (Electric bass, Ukulele, Guitar, percussion)

Ex-girlfriend……………………………………….Erica Spyres (violin, percussion)

Reza………………………………………………..Erica Swindell (violin)

Ivanka………………………………………………Kolette Tetlow

Da…………………………………………………..Scott Waara (mandolin)

Guy…………………………………………………Ryan Link (guitar)

This was the cast on October 21.

At some other performances:

Guy………………………………………………..Stuart Ward

Emcee……………………………………………..Ryan Link

Billy……………………………………………….Joshua Carter,


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