ONCE started its life as a low budget movie back in 2007, directed by John Carney, and starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, who wrote all the songs.
The stage adaptation, with book by Edna Walsh, premiered off Broadway in December 2011.
ONCE tells the story of an Irish busker simply known as Guy and a Czech immigrant simply known as Girl and their five day romance in Dublin.
As a romance ONCE doesn’t particularly stand out. It is in its celebration of the Irish love and talent for music where it comes to the fore. Every character on stage plays an instrument and, as Robert Catto’s photos show, the cast just use the stage as their playing field. There is even a cast member who plays the violin. whilst skating across the stage on roller skates.
For director Richard Carroll this is remounting of his successful 2019 production at the Eternity. He works again with Musical Director Victoria Falconer and Musical Director Amy Campbell and a very good creative team to come up with a well realised production.
Stefanie Gaccamo is great as Girl. She gets the comedy and the romance right, and her singing is excellent. There was one scene which saw her at the piano singing a gentle ballad which was very touching.
Toby Francis was also good as the scruffy, bruised Guy who blossoms under Girl’s care. His guitar playing and singing were strong.
There was good chemistry between the leads.
The rest of the cast gave great support. Special mention for : Drew Livingston was excellent as the, on the surface of it, conservative bank manager who keep his guitar in his office. Rupert Reid gave a touching performance as music store owner Billy who is more than a bit keen on Girl but is resigned to never winning her. Victoria Falconer is also excellent as Girl’s sassy girlfriend Reza. She is also the violin playing Musical Director.
ONCE is playing the Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst until Friday 6th August, 2021, and then goes on tour in venues around New South Wales, as well as Canberra and finally the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne from 17 September, 2021.
Production photography by Robert Catto.