Once The Musical – Olympia Theatre – Review by Fran Winston
Olympia theatre, Dame Street, Dublin 2
Runs until August 26th
Evening shows – doors 7pm, show 8pm
Matinee shows – doors 2pm, show 3pm
Tickets from €25
A summer run of Once The Musical is becoming something of a tradition at this stage – this is the third time we’ve been treated to it – and it is the sort of show that lends itself perfectly to this time of year. The Dublin setting means that it is a go to show for tourists while natives of the city just enjoy seeing this literal love song to their hometown. When I saw it last year I thoroughly enjoyed it, however my bugbear was in the casting of non-Irish actors in the leading roles. After all this island has produced a wealth of talent (this is even referenced in the show) so I refused to believe that there were no Irish actors that could fill this role.
Either the producers listened to me or they just wanted to give audiences a truly authentic experience but this time around the show boasts a completely Irish cast which I have to admit is a big selling point for me. Alongside many returning cast members from last year’s show Brian Gilligan and Niamh Perry take on the role of Guy and Girl.
Unlike many stage adaptations of movies this actually manages to expand the world of the film. Girl is definitely a driving force here moving all the action forward. Also characters that are only mentioned in the film feature as living, breathing entities here. And these actors work for their money. Each performer also doubles up as a musician and all the songs are performed live on the stage which really adds a fantastic energy to this.
The basic premise of the melancholy love story between guy and girl is still there but here it feels like it has a lot more depth to it. This is helped by fantastic performances from all involved and an extremely witty script (shout out to Phelim Drew as Billy who made the audience laugh pretty much every time he opened his mouth and who has some of the best lines).
Writer Enda Walsh has thoughtfully adapted John Carney’s original story while really putting his own stamp on it. He portrays real Dublin characters that we all know and recognise and like I said this is a love song to the city as much as a love story. Throw in some fantastic music written by the movies original stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová and this becomes a truly uplifting joyous theatrical experience.
This is one of those shows where everything just comes together and works from the set to the music, the performances, the lighting, the script, the choreography and everything in between. There is a reason it swept the boards at the Tony Awards and it is a truly marvellous evening’s entertainment. If you get there early you can even be part of the action as they open a bar on the Olympia’s stage where the audience can enjoy a drink and a bit of a hooley with the characters before the show starts proper. This should definitely be on any “Things to do in Dublin” list.