Once (musical)

This article is about a 2011 musical. For other uses, see Once.

Broadway promotional poster
Music Glen Hansard
Markéta Irglová
Lyrics Glen Hansard
Markéta Irglová
Book Enda Walsh
Basis Once
by John Carney
Productions 2011 Off-Broadway
2012 Broadway
2013 Dublin
2013 West End
2013 First US Tour
2014 Melbourne
2014 Seoul
2015 Toronto
2015 Dublin
2015 Seoul
2016 Second US Tour
Awards Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical
Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album
Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music

Once is a musical stage adaptation based on the 2007 film of the same name by John Carney. Like the film, music and lyrics were by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, including the Academy Award-winning "Falling Slowly". The book for the musical was written by Enda Walsh. The musical premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop in 2011, before transferring to Broadway in 2012. The production received eleven 2012 Tony Award nominations, and won eight including Best Musical, Best Actor and Best Book. The musical also won the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical and the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. It has since spawned a London production, with a North American Tour which started on 1 October 2013.

In the musical, the cast also serves as the orchestra. A minimalist set is used, including a bar in center stage with chairs lining stage left and right. Exiting cast members simply step to the side of the stage and sit down. They serve as the orchestra from these chairs. The bar is used before the show and at intermission as a working bar for theater patrons.[1]


Off-Broadway (2011–12)

Once premiered in a workshop at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA, in April 2011, before its transfer to New York Theatre Workshop where it made its Off-Broadway debut on 6 December 2011, following previews from 15 November, on a run through 15 January 2012. Under the direction of John Tiffany, the original cast was led by Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti as Guy and Girl, respectively.[2] The production was nominated for Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Director, Outstanding Choreographer, Outstanding Scenic Design (Bob Crowley), Outstanding Lighting Design (Natasha Katz), Outstanding Sound Design (Clive Goodwin), and Outstanding Lead Actress.[3] The production won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical.[4]

Broadway (2012–2015)

The musical then began previews on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre from 28 February 2012 and officially opening on 18 March.[5] Kazee and Milioti repeated their performances from the Off-Broadway cast. The production received eleven Tony Award nominations, winning eight, including Best Musical.[6] It also won the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical for 2011–12. On 7 October 2014, it was announced that the musical would close 4 January 2015. The production played 1,167 regular performances and 22 previews by closing time.[7]

Dublin/West End (2013–2015)

Following a limited engagement at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre from 22 February until 9 March 2013, starring Declan Bennett (Guy) and Zrinka Cvitešić (Girl), the show made its West End debut at the Phoenix Theatre, London. Previews began 16 March, which was followed by a 9 April opening night. Bennett and Cvitešić reprise their roles from the Dublin run.[8] Bennett and Cvitešić made an appearance on BBC's The Graham Norton Show for the televised show on 31 May 2013. Prior to an interview, they performed "Falling Slowly". On 15 January 2014, the show was extended to 4 July 2015. Arthur Darvill replaced Bennett as Guy on 17 March 2014 and continued in the role until 10 May 2014.[9] Cvitešić also left her role as Girl on 10 May. David Hunter and Jill Winternitz then played Guy and Girl respectively.[10] Ronan Keating took over the lead role from 17 November 2014[11] to 21 March 2015, when the production closed.[12]

North American Tour (2013–2015)

On 1 October 2013 the first North American national tour launched in Providence, Rhode Island at the Providence Performing Arts Center. Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal play Guy and Girl, respectively.[13] The tour ran through December 2015. The second North American national tour started in January 2016 in Utica, New York and is scheduled to run thru April 2017, starring Sam Cieri and Mackenzie Lesser-Roy.

Melbourne/Australia (2014–2015)

The first Australian production, produced by the Melbourne Theatre Company, premiered on 26 September 2014, and is scheduled to run through 1 February 2015. Tom Parsons and Madeleine Jones play Guy and Girl.[14]

Seoul/South Korea (2014–2015)

The first non-English production by Seensee Company, premiered on 14th, December 2014, scheduled to run through 29 March 2015. Do-hyun Yoon and Chang-hee Lee play Guy, Mi-do Jeon and Ji-yeon Park play Girl.[15]

Toronto (2015)

An all-Canadian company opened 10 February and played through 28 June 2015 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. The production starred Ian Lake as Guy and Trish Lindström as Girl.[16] It garnered seven Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations in the Musical Theatre Division and won three, for Outstanding Production, Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Performance - Female for Lindström.

Dublin (2015-2016)

In March 2015, it was announced that Once would return to Dublin. It was scheduled to play a limited run from July 4 to August 22 at the Olympia Theatre.[17] The cast included Tom Parsons as Guy and Megan Riordan as Girl. On July 28, it was then announced that Once had been extended and would run until September 12.[18] On 4 December 2015 it was announced that Once would return to Dublin and would play at the Olympia Theatre from July 2 - August 27, 2016.[19]

Seoul (2015)

After the success of the previous Korean production, cast members comprised from the Dublin and London Once companies played on The Charlotte Theatre from September 22 to November 1.[20]


Act I

A thirty-something Dublin busker (identified only as "Guy") sings a heartfelt ballad of unrequited love in a local bar, accompanying himself on guitar ("Leave"). He then puts his guitar in its case and turns to leave without it; but a young Czech woman ("Girl"), who has been listening to him sing, approaches. She asks numerous personal questions about his songs; he replies that he wrote most of them for a girlfriend who broke up with him and moved to New York City. He is giving up on his music because the memories of his defunct relationship are too painful; he now works as a vacuum cleaner repairman in his father's shop. Girl responds that she has a vacuum that "does not suck", and asks him to fix it. She offers to pay for the repair by playing piano for him. Over his protests, she snatches the sheet music for a new song from his jacket. Reluctantly, Guy picks up his guitar and they play the song together ("Falling Slowly"). Girl suggests that he could win his old girlfriend back by singing her that song. Guy brushes this off; but Girl reminds him that he now owes her a vacuum repair, so they head to his father's shop ("The North Strand").

As Guy fixes the vacuum, Girl becomes acquainted with his father, who seems to like her. Once the vacuum is repaired, Guy impulsively invites Girl to his bedroom, above the shop. They are clearly attracted to each other, but when he attempts to kiss her she stops him and leaves ("The Moon"). The next day he apologises, and they write, rehearse and record songs together. Girl introduces Guy to her family, including her young daughter, Ivanka ("Ej, Pada, Pada, Rosicka"). After Guy leaves, Girl plays one of his songs on the piano, substituting her own lyrics as she thinks of him ("If You Want Me").

The next morning Girl tells Guy that she has arranged a meeting with a banker ("Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy"). To persuade the bank manager to approve a loan — which would enable Guy to take his music to New York — Guy plays him a song ("Say It to Me Now"). The banker is impressed with his talent, approves the loan, and adds that he can play guitar as well. He plays a song for them ("Abandoned in Bandon"), and though he is not a very good singer, they invite him to play in the band. The following night at a night club, Guy tells Girl that she has convinced him that his musical career is worth pursuing. Good, she replies, because it is open mic night at the club, and she has signed him up to perform as "The Hoover Man". He is reluctant, but eventually takes the stage. As he sings, it seems that he is now singing to Girl, not his ex-girlfriend ("Gold").

Act II

During band practice, one of the musicians gets into an argument with the bank manager; he opposes capitalism, he says, despite the fact that he owns the shop where they are rehearsing. Guy and Girl retreat to a hill overlooking the city where the two share a brief, tender moment. Girl tells Guy, in Czech, that she loves him — but when he asks her to translate, she replies, "It looks like rain". Guy realizes that he has fallen in love with Girl, and wonders how he will live without her when he moves to New York ("Sleeping").

The next day the band records a demo for a major record label ("When Your Mind's Made Up"). After receiving praise for their performance, the band members take a break. Girl remains at the piano, and thinking she is alone, plays one of her own compositions that reveals the depth of her feelings for Guy ("The Hill"). Guy, who has been listening, compliments her on her song. He suggests that she and Ivanka move to New York with him, because they clearly have feelings for each other that they cannot ignore. Girl answers angrily that he cannot feel that way. Incredulous, Guy asks why; Girl replies that her husband — Ivanka's father — is trying to reconcile with her, and for the sake of their daughter she must consider it ("It Cannot Be About That"). The following morning the band gathers at the hill to voice their hopes for success with the impending album ("Gold (Acapella)"). Guy asks Girl to spend his last night in Dublin with him; she demurs, because it would only result in "hanky-panky", which is a "bad idea"; but ultimately she agrees to come to the vacuum shop.

Back at the shop, Guy plays the demo for his father. Impressed and moved, he gives Guy money to help him get settled in New York. Then Guy, encouraged by Girl, calls his ex-girlfriend in New York, who is happy about his imminent arrival, and seems willing to give their relationship another try. A few days later Girl comes home to find a piano with a bright red bow on it — a gift from Guy. She sheds a few tears, then sits at the piano and sings; as Guy, in his New York apartment, sings the same song ("Falling Slowly (Reprise)").

Principal roles and original casts

Character Original Broadway Cast Original West End Cast First US Tour Cast[21] Melbourne Cast[22] Toronto Cast[23] Dublin Cast[24] Seoul Cast Second US Tour Cast
Guy Steve Kazee Declan Bennett Stuart Ward Tom Parsons Ian Lake Tom Parsons Sam Cieri
Girl Cristin Milioti Zrinka Cvitešić Dani de Waal Madeleine Jones Trish Lindström Megan Riordan Mackenzie Lesser-Roy
Reza Elizabeth A. Davis Flora Spencer-Longhurst Claire Wellin Amy Lehpamer Emily Lukasik Ruth Westley Marlene Ginader
Eamon David Abeles Gareth O’Connor John Steven Gardner Gerard Carroll Brendan Wall Bob Kelly Tomas Wolstenholme Dan Tracy
Andrej Will Connolly Jos Slovick Alex Nee Keegan Joyce Nathan Carroll Dylan Reid Isaac Haas
Da David Patrick Kelly Michael O’Connor Raymond Bokhour Greg Stone Laurie Murdoch Bill Murphy Bristol Pomeroy
Baruska Anne L. Nathan Valda Aviks Donna Garner Susan-Ann Walker Donna Garner Sandra Dowd Callaghan Patricia Barlett
Svec Lucas Papaelias Ryan Fletcher Matt DeAngelis Brent Hill Brandon McGibbon Rickie O'Neill Liam Fennecken
Bank Manager Andy Taylor Jez Unwin Benjamin Magnuson Anton Berezin Jon-Alex MacFarlane Jamie Cameron Jenn Chandler
Ex-Girlfriend Erikka Walsh Miria Parvin Erica Swindell Jane Patterson Stephanie Cadman Lisa Fox Nyssa Duchow
Billy Paul Whitty Aidan Kelly Evan Harrington Colin Dean Stephen Guy-McGrath Phelim Drew John Hays
Emcee J. Michael Zygo Gabriel Vick Ryan Link Ben Brown Jeremy Walmsley Michael Mahony Angel Lin
Ivanka Ripley Sobo, McKayla Twiggs Poppy Lily Baker Kolette Tetlow Scarlett Rose Bildfell, Eva Greig Grace Cahill, Ciara Coughlan, Ellie Mooney, Lucy O'Neill Theodora Silverman

Notable Broadway cast replacements

Notable West End cast replacements

Musical numbers

Except where indicated, all musical numbers were written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.

Act 1
  • "Leave" – Guy
  • "Falling Slowly" – Guy & Girl
  • "The North Strand" – Ensemble
  • "The Moon" – Andrej (as Ensemble)
  • "Ej, Pada, Pada, Rosicka" – Ensemble
  • "If You Want Me" – Guy, Girl, & Ensemble
  • "Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy" – Guy
  • "Say It to Me Now" – Guy
  • "Abandoned in Bandon" – Bank Manager (composed by Martin Lowe, Andy Taylor and Enda Walsh)
  • "Gold" – Guy & Ensemble (composed by Fergus O'Farrell)

Act 2
  • "Sleeping" – Guy
  • "When Your Mind's Made Up" – Guy, Girl and Ensemble
  • "The Hill" – Girl
  • "Gold (A Cappella)" – Company
  • "It Cannot Be About That" – Ensemble
  • "The Moon" – Company
  • "Falling Slowly (Reprise)" – Guy, Girl and Ensemble

"Once", the titular song from the film, was cut from the musical, but has been performed by the cast during special curtain calls, such as when Markéta Irglová visited.[25]


Critical response

Ben Brantley, in his review of the New York Theatre Workshop production in The New York Times, wrote: "In translating Once into three dimensions, the playwright Enda Walsh and the director John Tiffany haven’t steered clear of what were probably inevitable excesses. The script is now steeped in wise and folksy observations about committing to love and taking chances, most of which are given solemn and thickly accented utterance by Girl (played by Cristin Milioti), who is Czech. Guy, played by Steve Kazee, has been transformed from a shaggy nerd into a figure of leading-man handsomeness, while Girl has turned into a full-fledged version of what she only threatened to be in the film: a kooky, life-affirming waif who is meant to be irresistible ... But a merciful reversal occurs when Once breaks into music, which is often. Characters become less adorably overwrought and more genuinely conflicted, with distinctive personalities instead of standard-issue ones. The songs (written by Mr. Hansard and Ms. Irglova) soar with rough-edged, sweet-and-sad ambivalence that is seldom visited in contemporary American musicals."[26]

Brantley reviewed the Broadway production in The New York Times, writing: "When I first saw the musical Once at the New York Theater Workshop last December, it registered as a little too twee, too conventionally sentimental, for the East Village. Yet on Broadway — at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater to be exact, where Once opened on Sunday night — what is essentially the same production feels as vital and surprising as the early spring that has crept up on Manhattan. And what was always wonderful about Once, its songs and its staging, has been magnified. In the meantime its appealing stars, Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti, have only grown in presence and dimensionality."[27]


Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2012 Tony Award Best Musical Won
Best Book of a Musical Enda Walsh Won
Best Actor in a Musical Steve Kazee Won
Best Actress in a Musical Cristin Milioti Nominated
Best Featured Actress in a Musical Elizabeth A. Davis Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical John Tiffany Won
Best Choreography Steven Hoggett Nominated
Best Orchestrations Martin Lowe Won
Best Scenic Design Bob Crowley Won
Best Lighting Design Natasha Katz Won
Best Sound Design Clive Goodwin Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical John Tiffany Won
Outstanding Music Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Won
Outstanding Sound Design Clive Goodwin Nominated
Outstanding Orchestrations Martin Lowe Won
2013 Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Steve Kazee & Cristin Milioti, principal soloists; Steven Epstein & Martin Lowe, producers (Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, composers/lyricists) Won

London production

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref
2014 Whatsonstage.com Awards Best New Musical Nominated [28][29]
Best Actor in a Musical Declan Bennett Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Zrinka Cvitešić Nominated
Best Director John Tiffany Nominated
Best Original Music Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová Won
Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated [30][31]
Best Actress in a Musical Zrinka Cvitešić Won
Best Set Design Bob Crowley Nominated
Best Theatre Choreographer Steven Hoggett Nominated
Best Sound Design Clive Goodwin Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Music Martin Lowe, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová Won

Toronto production

The production was nominated in the Musical Theatre Division of the Dora Mavor Moore Awards

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2015 Dora Mavor Moore Awards Outstanding Production Won
Outstanding Performance - Male Ian Lake Nominated
Outstanding Performance - Female Trish Lindström Won
Outstanding Performance - Ensemble Won
Outstanding Direction John Tiffany Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Steven Hoggett Nominated
Outstanding Musical Direction Martin Lowe Nominated


  1. "Once musical moves from Broadway to West End". BBC.co.uk. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  2. "Once Listing". New York Theatre Workshop. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  3. Hetrick, Adam (12 March 2012). "Lucille Lortel Award Nominations Announced; Once and Tribes Lead the Pack". Playbill.com.
  4. Lipton, Brian Scott (7 May 2012). "Once, Sons of the Prophet, Tribes Win New York Drama Critics Circle Awards". TheaterMania.com.
  5. Jones, Kenneth (28 February 2012). "Once Begins Broadway Run; Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti Play Musicians Who Are "Falling Slowly". Playbill.com.
  6. Gans, Andrew; Jones, Kenneth; Hetrick, Adam (1 May 2012). "2012 Tony Awards Nominations Announced; Once Earns 11 Nominations". Playbill.com.
  7. Gans, Andrew (18 May 2012). "Other Desert Cities, Salesman, Follies, Once, Audra McDonald Are Drama League Winners". Playbill.com.
  8. "Once confirms West End Transfer for April 2013". West End Frame. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  9. "Arthur Darvill to Lead London Once". Official London Theatre. 21 February 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  10. "David Hunter and Jill Winternitz Lead Once". Official London Theatre. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  11. "RONAN KEATING MAKES DEBUT IN ONCE". Official London Theatre. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  12. "Once to close in March before embarking on European tour". Whatsonstage.com. 8 October 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  13. Hetrick, Adasm. " 'Once' National Tour to Star Stuart Ward and Dani De Waal; Cast and Tour Itinerary Announced" playbill.com, September 3, 2013
  14. "Australian cast of musical Once announced". AussieTheatre.com.
  15. http://www.iseensee.com/Home/Main.aspx
  16. Ouzounian, Richard (23 April 2015). "Once held over once more in Toronto". Toronto Star. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  17. https://www.facebook.com/OncetheMusicalDublin/photos/a.932469120119026.1073741830.930989193600352/932468990119039/?type=1&theater
  18. https://www.facebook.com/OncetheMusicalDublin/photos/a.932469120119026.1073741830.930989193600352/998786703487267/?type=1&theater
  19. https://www.facebook.com/OncetheMusicalDublin/photos/a.932469120119026.1073741830.930989193600352/1059658347400102/?type=3&theater
  20. http://ticket.interpark.com/Global/Play/Goods/GoodsInfo.asp?GoodsCode=15008095
  21. http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Full-Cast-Revealed-for-ONCE-National-Tour-20130903
  22. http://aussietheatre.com.au/news/australian-cast-musical-announced
  23. http://www.playbill.com/news/article/all-canadian-cast-announced-for-toronto-production-of-once-stratford-fest-actors-star-330676
  24. http://oncemusical.ie/cast/
  25. "Markéta Irglová Returns to Once". YouTube. 6 October 2014.
  26. Brantley, Ben (6 December 2011). "A Love Affair With Music, Maybe With Each Other". The New York Times.
  27. Brantley, Ben (18 March 2012). "Theater Review. Once, With Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti, at Jacobs Theater". The New York Times.
  28. "The full 2014 Whatsonstage Awards shortlists". Whatsonstage.com. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  29. "Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint win at Whatsonstage Awards". The Telegraph. 23 February 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  30. "One new musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and one from 30 years ago, Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along, lead the nominations for the 2014 Olivier awards". The Guardian. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  31. "Olivier awards 2014 the full nominations". The Guardian. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.

External links

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