Where should I even begin with this group? I saw the Toronto production of the musical Once on Friday night. To say they put on a great show would be an understatement. Some background info– I’m not familiar with the book or movie. I knew of their existence but I was initially only interested in watching the show put on at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.
That changed when everyone in the audience sprang from their seats to give the cast a standing ovation, myself included. I had already had high expectations upon entering the theater; having read overwhelmingly positive reviews of the Toronto production’s performance. The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail gave the performance 4 out of 5 stars, while NOW Magazine gave it 5. I looked up the movie on Rotten Tomatoes, and upon seeing that it rated 97% on the tomato meter, I knew I had to go see it.
I was not disappointed. The most impressive part of this production is that the cast is kept to a minimum– there are no separate dancers or musicians. Rather, every actor on stage is also a talented singer or musician (or both), and damn can they dance. Equal parts funny and touching, Once keeps you smiling both for the humor and the beautiful music.
My friend and I were originally going to get the $69 tickets, but when we bought the tickets, there were no more $69 seats for the night we picked, so we “settled” for the $29 seats. The guy told us that the seats would be to the side, on the second row, but we brushed that off as him trying to make the situation sound better than it was. Imagine our surprise as we got to our seats that were literally in the second row, separated only by one row in front of us from the stage. The stage was literally 3 feet in front of us. I’ve circled our seats in red in the picture above. You can see from the picture at the top of the post how good we had it.
I went home happy with the songs still stuck in my head, so I decided to listen to them again on YouTube. I stumbled upon some videos from productions of the same play in different cities, and compared the performances of the lead actresses to that of Trish Lindström’s. Lindström did an excellent job of making the character her own, injecting little mannerisms and movements in to her performance. There’s one idiosyncrasy in particular that I loved while watching in my seat, and I only realized its genius after watching other productions of Once. In one scene, Lindström picks up the male lead’s guitar case. Instead of grabbing it by its handle, she chooses to use her entire arm to pick up the case, in turn hugging the neck of the guitar case to her body. The eager yet clumsy movement is made even funnier when she repeatedly hoists up the case, shifting its weight in her arm, as if she was holding a child that didn’t know to latch on to her neck. This wonderful and inefficient guitar-case-carrying technique was absent in all the subsequent videos I watched, which only made Trish Lindström’s performance shine more brightly in my mind.
I also looked up the actor who played the male lead’s ex-girlfriend… I may or may not have really liked the dress and cowboy boots she was wearing. I found out that not only does Stephanie Cadman do theatre, she’s also an award-winning, tap-dancing fiddler. Not to mention, she’s in one of my favorite Canadian country bands, Belle Starr. Here’s a video of Cadman tap-dancing all over Toronto to Bach played by Lara St. John that is sure to put a smile on your darling face. The joy with which both women perform is infectious.
Clearly, Once was a show I enjoyed thoroughly. It only gets better as you do your research and see the other projects the cast is involved in, and it is a show I would recommend to anyone thinking of going.
Have you seen Once? Are there any shows you loved or would like to see? Leave it in the comments below!