Once an Irish film,
now a hit Broadway musical
A vibrant rendition of the Tony-winning rock musical at the Segal
By Byron Toben
Once upon a time, musical shows started on the stage and then, if successful, became movies. It all changed in 1980, when the film 42nd Street was successfully adapted to the stage.
Since then, there have been dozens of similar transitions.
Yet, when I saw the charming 2007 Irish film Once at the neat Montreal Cine Gael series at which I am a regular attendee, I never thought it would become a big Broadway hit, even though one of its songs, Falling Slowly, won for Best Original Song at the 80th Academy Awards…
Indeed, the Broadway version went on to win 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Congrats to Lisa Rubin and the gang at the Segal Centre for mounting that piece here.
Warning to traditionalists. This is not your Danny Boy or Irish Eyes are Smiling tune fest so loved by many. It is a rock musical with 15 mostly loud songs (16 if you count the Falling Slowly reprisal at the end).
The whole is vibrantly directed by Andrew Shaver, Montreal’s own and native son, currently residing in Toronto, but appearing back here often as an actor in such shows as What’s In A Name at the Segal and The 39 Steps at the Centaur.
… when I saw the charming 2007 Irish film Once… I never thought it would become a big Broadway hit, even though one of its songs, Falling Slowly, won for Best Original Song at the 80th Academy Awards…
His physical theatre style is evident in the 13-strong cast, headed by Greg Halpin as Dublin street singer Guy and Eva Foote as Czech immigrant Girl, in the roles originally created and enacted by musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.
The generically named Guy sings 4 solos and generically named Girl but one as they combine with each other and/or the ensemble for most of the other songs.
By the way, my own contest.
I will secure a pair of tickets to a Cine Gael show to a reader who suggests a winning specific name for him and her. Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org
I especially enjoyed watching Al Goulem as Da, Guy’s father, who owns a vacuum repair (generically called “Hoovers” in UK and Ireland) shop.
‘I will secure a pair of tickets to a Cine Gael show to a reader who suggests a winning specific name for him and her.’
Mr Shaver and Choreographer Ann St-Pierre kept the talented cast busy with lots of jumping and leaping about even while singing or playing instruments.
Sarah Segal-Lazar, best known as a writer/actor enhanced her CV by filling in as assistant director.
During the intermission, I confirmed that the Irish accents in the cast were fairly accurate from both Gazette theatre critic Jim Burke and Federation of Irish Societies chair Paul Loftus.
All in all, we suggest seeing Once at least once and, if you are a rock music fan, twice.
Once continues at the Segal Centre until October 28.
514 739-7944 or segalcentre.org
Images: Leslie Schachter
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.