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  • Writer's picture New Music-Theatre


Malinda Kathleen Reese and Gregory Maheu in Once at Olney Theatre Center. (Photo: Stan Barouh)

ONCE was “once” a film, then a Broadway musical, which also made a tour stop to the Kennedy Center in 2016. It has been re-imagined again at Olney Theatre Center with a stripped stage, a back wall of abstract geometrics, and, instead of inviting the audience onto the stage to share a pint of Guinness (as in the Broadway show,) instead the actors come out on stage and “grab us” to join them in a rousing sing-a-long.

Please reflect on the following questions and add you comments to keep the conversation going on-line:

1. How did the concept of the stage design support the atmosphere and the story?

2. Ireland, “a rock in the middle of the ocean,” has birthed some of the greatest writers of the English language, and Enda Walsh may be one of them. What do you think the usually sardonic Walsh was trying to say in writing the book for the musical ONCE?

3. In this production, does this feel more a story about star-crossed lovers or an ensemble piece? What clinches it for you?

4. The song “Falling Slowly” became a mega-hit. In what way does it work or not as a musical number to advance the story? And, as a whole, does the music unfold through each song or by a longer arc?

5. Why did the director choose to balance the plot of two musicians coming together in diversity over their music with the strongly comedic characterizations and cameo scenes of the other characters?

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