ONCE: Broadway and West End Sensation to open in Melbourne

Photo:  Frank Okenfels
Photo: Frank Okenfels

Once upon a time there was a little Irish film that was made in 3 weeks on a budget of just over $100k. Initially rejected for Sundance Film Festival, it was given a leg-up and went on to win the audience award. From there, this unexpected treasure won Best Oscar for its mesmerising original song ‘Falling Slowly’. Fast-forward a few years, and the stage version of this story was playing to packed houses on Broadway and the West End.

Though it has been a complete sell-out since it opened in 2012 and has won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Direction, Producer John Frost was not initially interested, admitting at the launch in Melbourne this week that he had to be convinced to even see the show. “Within the first five minutes I was on the edge of my seat. It is inspiring, stunning and moving”.

Based on the Irish film, ONCE follows the tender story of a struggling Irish busker and a piano-playing Czech immigrant. Hailed as the most romantic show on Broadway, this unique production is sure to captivate theatre-lovers and newcomers alike. Frost is eager to bring the show to Australia saying, “It’s got a big underground following for a lot of ages. people that we don’t ’know about’.”

Everything about ONCE is different. Entering the theatre, the audience will be invited to join the cast on stage for a beer, immediately setting the scene for a late night lock-in within a typical Irish pub.

In every production of ONCE, the cast double as the music ensemble for the show, making its 13 performers ‘quadruple threats’: they sing, dance, act and play multiple instruments. Though this sounds daunting for any casting team, Frost is thrilled with what the casting process has uncovered saying, “The talent pull has been very impressive from Australia. The performers don’t even know about it, but we’ve chosen them. We’re about to start negotiations.” Casting will be announced in the coming weeks.

Original London Cast Photo:  Frank Okenfels
Original London Cast
Photo: Frank Okenfels

This authentic, emotionally honest musical features the brilliant collection of songs about longing and heartbreak from the original film by Glen Hansard (The Frames) and Markéta Irglová. The Australian production of ONCE will be directed by award-winning UK theatre director John Tiffany who adapted the film for stage alongside Irish playwright and screenwriter, Enda Walsh.

Musician Glen Hansard, who also starred in the original film version, confessed he was wary of turning the delicate and heartfelt tale into a mega Broadway musical. However, after getting on board and seeing what the plans were, he’s thrilled that the story continues to engage new audiences around the world.

The honest ending hasn’t been glossed up for the stage, something that Hansard is happy about and Frost can’t wait for Melbourne audiences to experience. “It’s the whole crux of the night. It’s heartbreakingly real.”

ONCE – Princess Theatre, Melbourne
Previews from September 30
Opening Night: October 4
Tickets on sale March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day)
Bookings through ticketmaster.com.au or Call 1300 111 011

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