by Becca Jennigns and Melanie Slusar
It’s a tale as old as time: guy meets girl, guy falls for girl…but, of course, we won’t tell you what happens next! Once is a story so universal that the main characters are given no names. Both are simply called “Guy” and “Girl.”
First, let’s meet Guy. Down on his luck, Guy is a brokenhearted Dubliner who has given up on love. He’s also given up on his greatest passion and talent: music. That is, until Girl comes along.
Girl is a no-nonsense, straight-talking young Czech woman who moves to Dublin to start a new life. As fate would have it, it is the music (and a broken vacuum) that brings these two characters together, and changes the course of their lives in just one
The music—in addition to the love story—is the anchor of this moving work, featuring impassioned melodies that are sure to tie your heartstrings in knots.
Beware: the love is apparently contagious. Interestingly, the two talented musicians behind the soundtrack, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, met and fell in love themselves while filming the Oscar Award-winning movie version of Once in 2007. While Hansard and Irglova eventually broke up after filming, their love has undoubtedly been woven into the fabric of this hauntingly beautiful story.
After great success on the silver screen, the award-winning movie was snatched up by American theatre producers and headed for the world of Broadway. The show swept the Tony’s in 2012, receiving eight awards, including Best Musical, and a Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. The Wall Street Journal called the Broadway production “a love story played with fierce sincerity and unexpected honesty.”
Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins is excited to bring this award-winning musical to the FST stage. “I think the appeal of this show is simple,” said Hopkins. “First of all, it’s a romance. It’s a real romance, with real people and real issues—something everyone can relate to. Second, it takes place on the lusty isle of Ireland with a strong set of European characters populating the world of the play. That, to me, makes it both exotic and universal.”
Familiar FST faces join the cast of Once. Returning in the lead role of Guy is Ben Williams, who was seen most recently as Carl Perkins in Million Dollar Quartet. Also coming back is FST’s sweetheart, Sarah Hund of The Blue Eyed Bettys and Poems, Prayers, and Promises. Hund takes to the stage as Reza, the fiddle-wielding best friend. New to FST is Elizabeth Nesterlode as the lead role of Girl. Talent abounds in this spectacular cast, which is all full of quadruple threats. Everyone sings, dances, acts, and plays an impressive variety of instruments.
Director Jason Cannon has a special connection to the work. “I saw the original film back in 2007, and was so moved by the raw yet sweet story, and so blown away by the depth and passion of the music, that I immediately walked out into the cinema lobby and purchased the soundtrack and listened to it on the way home,” said Cannon. “I’ve listened to the soundtrack many, many times since. The musical version of Once takes significant liberties with the film, but maintains the integrity and primacy of that soul-wrenching music and those heart-lifting lyrics. I am so excited to bring that passion into the intimacy of our Gompertz Theatre, which is truly a perfect setting for this show.”