Irish love story 'Once' explodes onto Broadway

Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:43pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The fairytale success of the unpretentious, beloved indie Irish film "Once" just hit new musical heights.

The Broadway version of the Dublin-based tale about an Irish busker and Czech immigrant who share their passion for music and a blossoming yet impossible love with a soaring soundtrack captured by the Oscar-winning song, "Falling Slowly," has hit the Great White Way to teary, standing ovations and rave reviews.

Critics on Monday called the intimate musical a "gem of a show", "a knockout,", "gorgeously crafted" and "the sweetest and most romantic show on Broadway" with talk already buzzing about a world musical tour and likely Tony Award nominations.

"'Once' uses song and dance in a way I've never experienced in an American musical," said The New York Times, complementing its soulful songs about the power of music and connection and performances by the musical's charming main stars, Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti, as well as the supporting cast.

Before the musical's premiere on Sunday night, the success of the gentle film that starred songwriters Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova playing a version of themselves, seemed difficult to top. Shot in 3 weeks on a shoestring budget, it ended up raking in $20 million worldwide.

The 2006 film, written and directed by John Carney, went all the way to the Oscars where Hansard told the awards show TV audience of nearly 40 million viewers: "We never thought we'd ever come into a room like this and be in front of you people."

The stage musical, adapted from a short off-Broadway run, was handed over to a different team of collaborators, including British director John Tiffany and choreographer Steven Hoggett, who created the acclaimed Scottish theater piece, "Black Watch."

Much of the film's humble story and witty tone has been kept in the musical. "There's a kind of humility to the film that we have tried to keep hold of, and a purity," Tiffany told Reuters.   Continued...