It’s almost been a week since I saw the premiere of Once at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto and I still have the signature song, Falling Slowly, on constant replay in my mind. I hadn’t listened to it in a few years and I was reminded again of its melancholic yet hopeful sentiment that draws me in every time. I’ll blame that on my Irish DNA. Falling slowly, however, isn’t how I would describe my reaction to this musical production. One falls rather quickly for the leads, Stuart Ward (Guy) and Dani de Waal (the Girl). Their story, which highlights universal themes of longing, loss and dislocation, is alternately sung and spoken in a dramatic fashion that is unique to musical theatre. The Girl – an émigré from the Czech Republic – helps Guy reach out to a girl he once loved, but who has since moved to New York. In doing so, the Girl forsakes her own feelings for the swarthy and handsome Guy. She knows hardship, so helping someone close to her realize his ambitions is, for her, reward enough. You want Guy and the Girl to be together, though, so their ultimate parting keeps this story from being some treacly confection. In theatre, like in life, we don’t always get what we want.
Once is on until January 5, at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. Buy tickets here.