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New Wolsey musical is ‘Once’ again a must-see show

PUBLISHED: 13:32 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:43 28 February 2020

The cast of  the New Wolsey Theatre's production of Once which is currently on a nationwide tour. It is back at its home theatre this week Photo: Mark Senior

The cast of the New Wolsey Theatre's production of Once which is currently on a nationwide tour. It is back at its home theatre this week Photo: Mark Senior

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Review: Once, by Enda Walsh, Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova, New Wolsey Theatre, until February 29

Daniel Healy and Emma Lucia as Guy and The Girl in the New Wolsey Theatre's production of Once   Photo: Mike KwasniakDaniel Healy and Emma Lucia as Guy and The Girl in the New Wolsey Theatre's production of Once Photo: Mike Kwasniak

You know a show has made a home in the heart of its audience when, as the last notes of the final song fly off the stage into the auditorium, the crowd rises as one to deliver a thunderous standing ovation; not waiting for the cast to line-up to take their bows.

This was the scene at the end of Once - the New Wolsey's revival of its 2018 musical - which is currently on a UK tour and is making a brief return to its home theatre. Daniel Healey and Emma Lucia are reprising their roles as Guy and Girl with Peter Peverley, Susannah van den Berg and Samuel Martin also returning as Da, Baruska and Bank Manager. The rest of the cast is new but it doesn't make the slightest difference as the show is as sharp, funny and heartwarming as it was first time around and the singing and the playing are out of this world.

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The songs by real-life Guy and Girl, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, are a magical blend of singer-songwriter and contemporary folk which will have theatregoers out of their seats by the end of the evening. The 16 actor-musicians get the audience in the mood for what is to come by performing an on-stage, lock-in, pub jam session as the audience take their seats.

Once, based on a award-winning film, is a heartwarming character piece. Set in Dublin, the nameless Czech single mum comes across a heartbroken busker on the streets and decides to turn his life around. She likes his self-penned songs and forces him, through sheer force of personality, to do something with his talent. A romance slowly blossoms but she has a husband and he has a girlfriend, can this love affair go anywhere?

Daniel and Emma have real chemistry on stage and are supported by a galaxy of larger-than-life characters which give the show a lot of heart.

Daniel Healy and Emma Lucia as Guy and The Girl in the New Wolsey Theatre's production of Once   Photo: Mike KwasniakDaniel Healy and Emma Lucia as Guy and The Girl in the New Wolsey Theatre's production of Once Photo: Mike Kwasniak

Peter Rowe's staging is inventive and very fluid, using plenty of levels on a very realistic looking pub set, which is transformed, on occasion, to a recording studio, a bank and even a seaside pier.

This production has the perfect blend of charm, humour, genuine emotion and full-blown musical bravado and two leads who are simply outstanding. As The Beatles once said: "A splendid time is guaranteed for all."

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