Many, many moons ago, I watched a little movie that captured my soul a bit. It was low-budget, it featured few names that anyone would recognise, it had nothing in the way of special effects, and it didn’t have the pay-off at the end that we’ve been trained to expect by larger studio efforts. But it had character, it had songs which drove straight into me, and it was believable. That film was Once, and I was far from alone in being a fan of it. It won an Oscar, and some attention from Broadway types, who decided to adapt it for their nefarious money making purposes.
I was extremely sceptical of this; I was sure at the time that they’d kill the soul of the show by insisting on making it big and/or brash, or that they’d add the traditional USian syrup to it. I thought that it’d end up being a sickly sweet, showy effort that had the songs of the original (and maybe even the same words), but none of the character that made the film great.
Happily, I was wrong. TLW & I, along with other family members and the rest of a birthday party, saw the show yesterday. It wasn’t quite as good as the original, but it had the soul and the heart of it down pat. The changes necessary for the stage worked, and the changes to characters worked, and the feel of it worked. They didn’t put on a big show of it and didn’t make it brash. They just acted the parts, sang the beautiful songs and pulled at your heartstrings just like the film did.
Some little tweaks were excellent; the fact that the set (a bar) doubled as the main bar for the theatre meant that the audience could walk about in it before and after the show. And instead of the show having a clear start, the musicians just appeared in the middle of the set as people ordered drinks around them and started having a little jamming session – I imagine that if someone charged for drinks in the corner of Nelly‘s sitting room it would feel the same on a random evening.
In short: go and see it. It is a thing of great beauty, and it will make your soul happy.