If you’re just looking at the plot of Once The Musical, you may think it’s a relatively simple story. It’s a classic case of boy meets girl (or in this case ‘Guy’) and they become star-crossed lovers. However, when put into context with a fabulous set of cast and creatives, Once proves to be so much more.
Challenging the notion of what a musical can and should be, Once has a heavy set of requirements on its performers. Each one not only does the big three (sings, dances, and acts) but also plays multiple instruments. No need for an orchestra pit here, the band is on stage and doing it all.
Under the direction of Richard Carroll, this production of Once brings new performers to the show to join some of the cast from the 2021 Sydney season. Carroll has executed some of the best casting I’ve ever seen, the cast showcase plenty of individual talent while working as a cohesive force.
In the lead roles of Guy and Girl are Toby Francis and Stefanie Caccamo respectively. The duo provides a great juxtaposition, with Guy’s roughness of a ‘tortured artist’ and Girl’s optimism and Czech determination while being a beautiful vocal pairing.
Stefanie Caccamo and Toby Francis. Photography by Daniel J Grant
The ensemble, full of eclectic yet loveable characters, helps bring this world to life. They sometimes sit in the shadows playing their instruments and at other times swirl around on stage under Amy Campbell’s dynamic movement direction. Musical director Victoria Falconer ensures there’s a full and layered sound throughout, even during the moments of crazy movement (like playing the violin on rollerblades).
Once’s film origins are nodded to through the beautifully cinematic lighting by Peter Rubie. Peter’s ability to highlight and isolate the performers during solos is particularly moving, such as when Girl sings The Hill she feels completely removed from the surroundings.
The Cast of Once. Photography by Daniel J Grant
This is a musical for both lovers and haters of musicals. If you have an aversion to the more ‘traditional’ style of musicals (i.e Andrew Lloyd Webber), Once could not be further from that. This is a show simply for lovers of music and simple yet powerful stories.
Once is presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA and Darlinghurst Theatre Company production and is on from now until June 12.