Once was that nicely received 2007 romantic flick about an Irish musician’s longing interaction with a Czech woman in Dublin.
It’s the little movie you heard about here and there and then suddenly it won the Oscar for Best Song for “Falling Slowly.” Sort of Abie’s Czech Rose, but with way more soul.
And now it’s twice for Once because the property has transitioned into an Off-Broadway musical at the New York Theatre Workshop, with a score by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.
(They wrote the songs for the movie and starred in it, falling in love while promoting it, though now they’re just Oscar-winning friends.)
In the show, Girl (Cristin Milioti) is the “angel” who tries to lure Guy (Steve Kazee) out of the funk of his dissipated relationship, generously aiming to get him to both pursue his music and get back with his girlfriend, while also hoping he can get her Hoover to “suck” again.
But she’s having her own problems with her husband, and in the process of being Guy’s muse, she falls for more than just his voice.
The resulting musical is full of mournful ballads that don’t always lend themselves to theatricality — including “Falling Slowly” — so even when they’re nicely sung, they make for a semihypnotic-verging-on-dullish first act.
Also, Girl can be irritatingly precious with her pronouncements like “You must always say hello to the piano” and “I am going to hug you right now.”
But the tone clicks better in Act Two and a sweet charm takes over Bob Crowley‘s atmospheric barroom set as the relationship takes an unexpected course.
And at least this is not another bombastic, gimmicky musical. It has an awkward sincerity that’s refreshing, especially in a movie-to-show translation.
Maybe they can now do a movie of this version of Once and call it Thrice.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 6, 2011