Harry Hamm

harry star 5stars Once Is Perfect

There have been few (if any) musicals to open at The Fox with the impact and intoxication that “Once” brings to the stage.

once pic 1

Photo courtesy The Fox Theater

In fact, the first number before the show actually begins, “Raglan Road,” sung magnificently by Raymond Bokhour as a character named “Da,”  literally stops the show before it begins. But that’s just one of the amazements in a production that is full of poignant surprises and sharp, crisp humor. Without giving too much away, here’s a hint. Get there early. You’ll be glad you did.

once pic 3

Photo courtesy The Fox Theater

“Once” is the simple story of a young musician from Dublin who works at his father’s shop repairing vacuum cleaners, but has dreams of being a songwriter. He is angrily burdened by the weight of a recent love lost. When he meets a young married Czech woman with a little girl who recognizes his potential,  and even wants to collaborate on a demo CD with him, it turns his life around. They also fall in love, but in that is yet another heart rendering strand that is “Once.” On opening night, Stuart Ward was the “Guy.” Dani de Wall was the beguiling girl. Their chemistry is so tangible it will make you hurt.

once pic 2

Photo courtesy The Fox Theater

There are 26 cast members listed in the program for “Once,” but only 13 perform on a particular night. The set is a simple Irish pub. Each character in the production plays a different musical instrument. (There is no pit orchestra.) They all play critical roles that are sharply delineated and performed. Even the dialects seem perfect. “Once” is theatrically inventive in a very basic but highly illuminating way.

once pic 5

Photo courtesy The Fox Theater

“Once” has passion, energy, earthy choreography and a gutsy refinement. The conflicts and characters in the story show great dimension. The audience is guided into a world of Irish culture, original music and personal narratives that are irresistible.

once pic 6

Photo courtesy The Fox Theater

“Once” is better than you could ever imagine. It’s magical, and at moments, spellbinding. Yes, I’m gushing. I loved every minute.







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