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Once the Movie vs Once the Musical

Friday, November 1, 2013

 Tinsel & Tine at "Once" the Musical Opening Night



Once, winner of eight Tony Awards including Best Musical and winner of the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, kicked off the Broadway Philadelphia season at the Academy of Music, and I got to see it opening night!

I wanted to do an in-depth comparison of the film vs. the Broadway show and had planned to stream the movie Once before opening night, as I hadn't seen this charming little film since it was in theaters way back in 2007.  That was the plan, however, I was running around doing the Philadelphia Film Festival, started a new job that's much more involved than I had anticipated, not to mention comes with an hour commute each way, and on top of it all, I got the flu.  So I was fortunate to even make it to the show; now the review is due, and I still didn't get a chance to re-watch the film.

For anyone unfamiliar with the plot of both the movie and the musical - A young, immigrant Czech woman recently come to live in Dublin Ireland, needs her Hoover vacuum cleaner fixed. She happens to stop to hear a street musician and strikes up a conversation with him, during their exchange she finds out he also fixes vacuum cleaners and he finds out she plays the piano. A little friendship starts and grows into more as they begin to collaborate on his songs, songs written out of the heartbreak he recently experienced having been cheated on and left by the love of his life. - the first being the haunting, sweetly, brilliant ballad "Falling Slowly". I may not have seen the movie since 2007, but I've been playing this song on my Mp3 player all along.

Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová scene from "Once" movie

Once the movie, directed by John Carney, is gentle and small, yet leaves a big impact.  Part of the film's appeal stems from full songs being sung throughout, resembling a movie/musical; but mostly, it's the leads/composers, Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová who are so natural and honest in these roles.  At the time of the film, they were a couple in real life and no doubt that added to the bittersweet, yet fairytale feeling of the movie.

Once the musical, directed by John Tiffany, Book by Enda Walsh, lightens the mood of the piece. There's levity in the timing of props appearing, handed to the actors by the chorus/musicians on stage at all times. Those same chorus members also make up the off-beat friends and session musicians, whose scenes are all played for laughs. The "girl" (Dani de Waal) is downright bubbly and outgoing (complete opposite of Marketa). The "guy" (Stuart Ward) is a little less animated, but still lacks a sense of weariness.  Both fine stage actors, in good voice; it's just I was looking to experience a bit of melancholy and quiet humor.

Once the Musical Set Decor

The set (designer Bob Crowley) definitely fits with what I imagined the feel of the musical to be - the whole show takes place in a rustic little Irish pub, adorned with antique, sepia-toned mirrors, and old wooden chairs. It's especially lovely to be able to see Dani's hands on the piano keys reflected in the largest of the distressed mirrors.

The music, has not changed from the movie soundtrack, a mix of contemporary Irish folk and American singer/songwriter. The music supervisor Martin Lowe: "On the first day of rehearsals I said to the cast, It's not my job to reinvent this music. It's my job to serve it up to the audience in the way that they remember it."

My favorite tunes besides "Falling Slowly" are "When Your Mind's Made Up" an up tempo, raw, almost rock sound. And "Gold", a song I didn't pay much attention to on the soundtrack, but staged it's impressive! All 12 musician/actors are facing the audience playing various instruments with choreography. It's that number in the show which really gives you that Tony Award feeling.




Here's a YouTube link to all the songs from the album. Neither Hansard or Irglová (who I sat behind at the 2012 Tony Awards) worked on the show as it was being developed; however, the director invited them both to do a little tweaking and finessing, once Once was on its feet.

Academy Ballroom - Google Image because I didn't bring my camera
The other unique aspect of this Broadway hit musical comes in the pre-show and intermission, where the audience is allowed to join the musicians on stage for a jam session and order actual beverages from the bar.  I didn't partake of these festivities, as I was invited to the Opening Reception in the Balcony Ballroom of the Academy, where I got to sip complimentary champagne cocktails and enjoyed a repast catered by famed restaurateur (Chef Jose Garces) Garces Catering : charcuterie meats, cheeses and olives and butler'd  hors d'oeuvre of skewered Sea Scallops with Pork Bellies, Mini Provolone Grilled Cheese on buttery, flaky Toast and Lamb Meatballs in a Manchego Cheese sauce.

Whether we're talking movie or musical, Once explores the magic that can happen when someone special enters your life and brings a little joy to your journey, no matter how brief.
Once runs from October 29 - November 10, 2013.  
Followed by FlashDance The Musical (another Big Screen to Broadway adaptation) November 19 - 24, 2013.  kimmelcenter.org/bwy1314.
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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

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Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?
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