Tony Award winning Broadway musical “ONCE” comes to Clayton Center

“Once”, Tony Award winning Broadway musical, recently premiered at the Clayton Center for the Preforming Arts.

“Once” takes place in modern-day Dublin, Ireland and tells the story of two strangers, a vacuum repairman and a Czech immigrant, who come together over their shared passion for music, walk through their past loves and discover their blossoming love for one another through song. . With the help of a rag tag crew that they pick up from the pub the two decide that they will create a demo in order to help pay for him to go to New York and find the one that got away.

This uniquely personal romantic comedy featured live music created by the actors. The talented performers jumped in and out of scenes and switched instruments with ease. The music selection was a medley of Irish folk and coffee house, singer-songwriter. The actors performed on a variety of instruments such as the accordion, up-right base and violin.

The set was simple and designed to look like a local Irish pub. The stage functioned as a bar before the beginning of the play—allowing audience members to mingle onstage with the set. Actors soon joined the unsuspecting audience on stage creating a music circle that organically transitioned into the start of the show.

This captivating musical shows how complicated the relationship of the two budding young lovers becomes over time with the struggles of their own personal lives thrown into the mix. “Once” captures important milestones of lost love through lighting and the feeling of longing through the lyrics of their Grammy Award winning score.

Even though it was a single-set show, the lighting created different spaces for each scene—an interesting dynamic that made for easy and quick transitions. During one scene, which depicted the two main characters overlooking Dublin, the actors were seen at the top of the set while an array of lights from the floor depicted the city below them.

“Once” is beautifully simple, surprisingly clever and heartbreakingly honest. It carries the audience through an emotional journey told by the unconventional star-crossed lovers of a modern-day love story.

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