Once’ adaptation lands at Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall

A guy. A girl. A fleeting romance. Once is a timeless story, and the touring production coming to Smith is winning over audiences everywhere.
Jacob Coakley

Broadway musicals are built to be big, but rarely are they bigger than movies. Yet that’s the case with the Best Musical Tony Award-winning Once, playing the Smith Center May 20-25.

All 12 of the actors in the show play their own instruments, which allows the songs to have even bigger arrangements than they did in the movie—a reverse of what normally happens in screen-to-stage adaptation. The cast takes to the task with gusto. “We built a community, and that became the heart of the piece,” director John Tiffany says. “Watching them play the music and sing and find their voice is very beautiful and very strong.”

Once follows the story of a Dublin musician and a Czech immigrant over the course of a week where they meet, make music, fall in love and part. They are only called “Guy” and “Girl,” which could be cheesy—but with such deep authenticity in this musical, it’s archetypal. “I think what’s very moving about the piece is how sometimes we meet people who we don’t necessarily stay with forever, but they give us the resources to move on to the next part of our life,” Tiffany says. “There’s something very truthful in that. People have said to me, ‘When I was sitting in the theater watching Once, I felt like I was watching it with everyone I’ve ever loved, whether or not they’re still in my life.’”

Once May 20-25; Tuesday-Sunday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 2 p.m.; $26-$129. Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall, 749-2000.

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