You’re walking into the Princess Theatre, ticket in hand. But instead of being led to your seat, you’re taken right up onto the stage, handed a beer, and warmly welcomed to a late-night lock-in at an Irish pub by a group of improvising musicians.
This is Once: A New Musical, and it’s one of the biggest new productions coming to Melbourne this year. After its 2012 debut, the musical became an instant blockbuster on Broadway and London’s West End, sweeping up eight Tony awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. As of Monday March 17, tickets are on sale for its first-ever Australian season.
Once is based on John Carney’s 2006 film of the same name, and follows the achingly romantic tale of a struggling Dublin busker who finds love and inspiration when he meets an immigrant flower seller. Creating music is central to the story, as the two characters use their art to express love and longing.
In adapting the film to musical theatre, UK director John Tiffany (who is also directing the Australian production) felt that he needed to do away with the traditional separation of the band from the actors on stage. As a result, all the actors – including the two romantic leads – play their own instruments.
Written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, the musical’s repertoire of foot-stomping Irish pub jigs, warm violin solos and darkly emotional ballads is far from the staple of belting show-stoppers that you may have come to expect from big-scale productions. Once looks to be a more understated, emotionally honest story.
The Australian cast is yet to be announced, but it shouldn’t be long until the stars of the show are revealed.
Once: A New Musical, Princess Theatre, Oct 4-Nov 16 . Tickets on sale Mon Mar 17.