Sunday, May 13, 2012

Once Upon A Love

Sometimes, the only thing a musical needs is...heart. You don't need turntable stages, or elaborate sets, or chandeliers or superheroes. ONCE just has a pub. As a matter of fact, before the show and during intermission, theatergoers can mingle with the cast on stage in a pub setting, enhancing the intimate feel of the piece. And this is as intimate a piece as it gets. Based on the 2006 indie movie, this show started Off-Broadway and became an instant hit, that the move uptown was inevitable. I did not get to see its smaller incarnation, but the one at Bernard B. Jacobs Theater has a heart that is nothing but small - it fills the whole space and you are smack in the middle of it, that when it bleeds, you hold the blood in your hands. Ever since I saw the show, I have been playing its anchor song, "Falling Slowly," at least once a day, and each time I peel a layer from it and see and feel something new, as the memory of the show has lingered in me since that night. It's been a slow churn, too. When I saw the show, I appreciated it, but I was caught up in several moments that I only truly appreciated it as I thought about it more, and after. First, I have been thinking more and more about Christine Milotti's performance - about how it is a little showy, but is really the heart of the piece. It touches me how she shows pain and suffering to be instruments to bringing art and hope to someone who has given up on life. Steve Kazee bares his soul so raw and he is such a presence that I was unable to look at him, his pain so real it was like seeing someone with their guts hanging out from pain. The two of them such deep-seeded chemistry that I cannot believe they are not together in real life. The book by Enda Walsh fleshes out a thin story without stretching, and the music, a mixture of originals (by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova) is perfectly fit to the fable-like feel of the story. I am not alone on my love of this show - it got eleven Tony nominations. I always say that my favorite art are the ones that touch me and make me feel love - this show is the poster child for that feeling. 

Try to resist crying after hearing this:


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