Intoxicating “Once” Is Immersive Theater

Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal make beautiful music together in the national tour of Once (Photo by Joan Marcus)

By Michelle F. Solomon,, for, Oct 10, 2015 – The musical Once now at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, part of the Broadway in Fort Lauderdale series, is one of those immersive theater experiences. It’s supposed to be and it is. It’s a love story about music, muses, heartbreak, discovery, and how humans relate on many levels – as families, as wives, mothers, daughters, brothers, sons, and neighbors.

Once is based on the 2007 Oscar-winning film about a singer-songwriter named Guy, who lives in Dublin, Ireland. He’s brooding and depressed after a breakup, so much so that he wants to give up his dream of being famous. Yet he’s so good, he could very well be the next Bono. He’s hanging up his guitar and resigned himself to living in a small flat with his father above the Hoover vacuum cleaning store where they both work. When he meets up with a Czech immigrant (she’s only referred to as Girl in Playbill notes; I can’t recall her every being called by name in the play) musical sparks ignite. She plays piano. She’s pretty. She’s lonely, too, but she has a reason to remain unattached, no matter how much she begins to fancy Guy.

It is a guy meets girl love story, but there’s something compellingly different about this once upon a time. Perhaps that is why it won eight Tony Awards in 2012 including Best Musical.