The Buzz

Indie movie musical Once transitions to the stage

Categories: Live Performance

Once musicalSteve Kazee, left, and Cristin Milioti star in Once, the stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning film, in New York. (Joan Marcus/Richard Kornberg & Associates/Associated Press)

Fans of the lovely, tender, shoestring-budget Irish film Once -- described by some as a "musical for people who don't like musicals" -- can rest easy. A new adaptation of the beloved tale has been successful in its transition to the stage.

The musical theatre version of the indie flick-turned-Sundance-smash was first announced in 2008, but the resulting production only recently began previews at New York Theatre Workshop.

On Tuesday, producers toasted the Off-Broadway show's opening night with news that they're moving: come Feb. 28, cast and crew will be playing Broadway's Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (with the official opening night set for March 18).

Based on John Carney's 2006 film of the same name, Once tells the story of a talented but mopey and aimless Dublin street musician who finds new purpose in life when he meets a determined young Czech flower-seller and singer-songwriter. The musical stars Steve Kazee and Christin Milioti as the couple.

Once movie musicalGlen Hansard and Marketa Irglova appear in a scene from the film Once. (IFC First Take/Associated Press)

Much of the naturalistic film's bestselling soundtrack has made it into the new stage musical, most notably Falling Slowly. The stirring, heart-tugging ballad earned the film's lead couple (and real-life musicians) Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova the best original song Oscar as well as a host of other kudos.

So far, early reviews have been positive for the Off-Broadway version of Once, with New York Magazine describing it as "a grand little valentine" and Variety calling it "that rare musical which theatre lovers will want to see again."

Hollywood Reporter went even further in its praise: "It may sound like heresy to fans of the [original], but this bewitching stage adaptation arguably improves on the movie, expanding its emotional breadth and elevating it stylistically while remaining true to the original's raw fragility."

Hansard and Irglova were on board to write additional music for Once. With the strong creative team behind the stage show (including a libretto by Irish playwright Enda Walsh and Black Watch collaborators John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett participating as director and choreographer, respectively), it seems the low-key love story may be in for further acclaim onstage.

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