Monthly Archive for: ‘October, 2015’

ONCE at SHNSF Orpheum Theatre is worth seeing many times.

Stuart Ward as Guy and Dani DE Waal as Girl in Once at the Orpheum

Stuart Ward as Guy and Dani De Waal as Girl in Once at the Orpheum

ONCE: Musical. Stage adaptation of the movie of the same name by John Carney. Book by Enda Walsh. Music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Directed by John Tiffany. National Tour at SHN Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St., San Francisco, CA

888-746-1799 or October 27- November 1, 2015

ONCE at SHNSF Orpheum Theatre is worth seeing many times. Rating: ★★★★★

Modern musicals have broken many “rules’ since Showboat and Oklahoma set standard formats for the musical stage. In 2012 a relatively new format captured Broadway with the award winning Once that won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Actor and Best Book. The musical spawned a London production and in 2013 began a National tour that had a successful stop in San Francisco two years ago. The reprieve that is here for a short run received a thunderous standing ovation opening night.

Once is a stage adaptation based on the 2007 film of the same name by John Carney. Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová provided the music and lyrics for the movie and do the same for this stage version that includes the Academy Award winning “Falling Slowly.”

The musical follows the film’s simple love story and takes place in Dublin. Guy (Stuart Ward), is a street musician and vacuum repair man, who dreams of fame but is giving up because his true love girlfriend has deserted him by moving to New York. A young Czech woman, Girl (Dani De Waal) a flower seller with a passion for music, is a single lonely mother who hears his song and inspires him to succeed. They fall in love but the relationship is bittersweet and eventually not to be. As the relationship plays out we are introduced to other cast members who play a plethora of instruments and move to the side of the stage sitting in chairs becoming the orchestra. They intermittently leave their chairs to become actors in the plot singing and dancing as necessary.

Most of the songs from the film are kept with new ones added. Stuart Ward plays the guitar and Dani De Waal plays the piano while the other 10 members of the cast perform admirably with, to mention a few, accordion, banjo, ukule, violin and even a cello. It is a marvel to see them play while performing.

Cast as orchestra and performers

Cast as orchestra and performers

The major set is a Dublin pub lined with mirrors that swiftly morphs into various locales with the cast deftly moving a few tables and chairs and the upright piano on and off the set. The bar is used before the show and at intermission as a working bar for theater patrons who line up in the aisles to get to the stage bar.

Using the generic names of Guy, Girl and Da for the major characters adds a touch of universality about never giving up on your dreams that is reflected in lyrics beginning with the opening solo “The North Stand” with ensemble back up by baritone Scott Waara playing Da, Guy’s father. The tone immediately shifts to regret as Guy sings the stinging “Leave” directed at the already departed ex-girlfriend.

Stuart Ward and Dani De Waal are perfect for their roles as the star-crossed lovers and the supporting cast gives an ensemble performance with each having a turn on center stage. John Tiffany’s direction mingles the raucous moments with quiet interludes that will wring pathos and break a few hearts in the audience. Running time is about two hours with intermission and earns a ‘must see’ rating.

CAST: Stuart Ward, Guy; Dani De Waal, Girl; Sarah McKinley Austin, Ivanka; Matt Deangelis, Svec; John Steven Gardner, Eamon; Evan Harrington, Billy; Ryan Link, Emcee; Jon-Alex MacFarlane, Bank Manager; Alex Nee, Andrej; Erica Spyres, Ex Girlfriend; Tina Stafford, Baruska; Scott Waara, Da; Claire Wellin,Reza

ARTISTIC STAFF: Directed by John Tiffany; Scenic and Costume Design, Bob Crowley; Music Supervisor and Orchestrations, Martin Lowe; Movement by Steven Hoggett; Sound Design, Clive Goodwin; Lighting Design, Natasha Katz; Stage Manager, E. Cameron Holsinger; Resident Music Supervisor, Fred Lassen.

Kedar Adour, MD

Courtesy of

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