I have a tendency to talk things up. What can I say? I’m invested in things, places, and people I love, and I want everyone to share that joy with me.
Sometimes I worry though; the last thing I want to do is build something up too much, bringing opportunities to let people down when they themselves finally get to experience whatever/whomever I rave of for their first time.
Now, though... Here’s a show to talk about.
Mom and I got to see “Once the Musical” during its New York Theatre Workshop run. Absolutely and utterly magical. One of those theatrical experiences where I became alive within the story’s creation, validity, message, and dignified presence. Just tears, so many tears streaming down my face at the end of this musical. I was fearful of its final moment, heart-broken as they took their bows, because it meant I had to leave this gorgeous experience behind.
Then, a few months later, this little show that could strides valiantly to the Great White Way.
A story about a boy and a girl who meet and change lives; a story of two people meeting and learning together how to face their fears.
We all love Broadway for its lavishness, the grand theaters, booming orchestrations, affected stage design, the $5 water bottles... But this story doesn’t amount to those extremes when you first think of it’s grounding, finer meaning. Yet, it obviously deserves to be there, more really than so much of Broadway nowadays. Broadway is now commercially consumed by the “effects”.
Where did the story go? Where did the theatrical intent of sharing a story go?
It all came back with “Once”.
Last night, I got to sit in on one of my most magical theatre experiences for a second time with my great friends Emily and Christy, both of whom I amped up this production to. At intermission, I turned to silenced Emily:
“What do you think Em?”
“I love it. I was worried because I had heard so many wonderful things, afraid of being let down. But this is stunning.”
Where a balanced and driven story falls, complete and invested characters spawn. Through the dialogue savvy book, riddled with these effervescent people, music so inspiring and emotion-jolting carries the audience through a sea of journeys, including their very own. As an audience member, you’re there with the characters while also unable to keep from reflecting upon your own life.
Along with the music, the movement and dance of this piece was just mind-blowing. Serene, magical, innocent, masterful, pleasing: it was there to emote the unexplainable emotions from and for the audience. These emotions could only be drawn this way; no words could ever explain them properly. This same mentality easily goes along with the music itself. Each character plays at least one, if not a plethora of instruments (cello, guitar, mandolin, bass, drums, piano, violin, etc.), not only becoming the characters, but the grand musicians. It was so apparent the choices of which instruments to bring in and when in each piece of song. It’s something that can only be felt and explained through each moment of this production, being there amongst it all.
Let’s talk a bit about restrictions... They are a wonderful tool for theatre, and “Once” took their own restrictions (whether they were chosen or thrust upon them) to not only run with them, but sprint. Holes were left in the technical aspects, taking projection, hydraulics, and computered effects far away from the production, allowing opportunities for actual theatre’s true magic to rise and fill in the gaps with ingenuity.
Let theatre be theatre. That’s what “Once” has done; it has allowed the magic of theatre to be itself untainted, unharmed, untreated. Pure.
This review encompasses everything I believe theatre should be, and that this show achieved for obviously not just me:
Every one of these characters has a voice. Every song has a purpose in this piece. Every movement is driving the complete idea of the story forward:
Don’t... Rather never become stuck by fear. Push through. Even at those last moments where everything seems absolutely impossible, continue on. Even when that cloud of doubt and reasons why turning away from your goal, your dreams, your true intended life, aptly clouds your perception on how and which way to move forward, CONTINUE MOVING ON, TOWARD THAT WHICH SCARES YOU. And if that little shit comes back again, give it a big “Fuck You!” That’s all it deserves. (Please excuse my French...)
It’s when we push past our fears we live, and to live is to love as “Once” illustrates for us. Live loving and lovingly. I mean, why wouldn’t you?
After getting a quick bite to eat after with the girls, we three walked towards the burning-eyeball lights of Times Square for our trek home. But on the way, who did we run into? Steve Kazee, the (dreamiest, and even dreamier in person) star of “Once”. We decided we had to say something, or as Emily took from the warning signs of the NYC Subway System: “If you see something, say something.” And Lord knows, we saw something great, so we had to express our thanks.
While it wasn’t the least awkward thing we’ve ever done, we were all so glad we did. Steve was so kind, a truly genuine soul. With congratulations beaming from our every pore, he went to add onto his gratitude to spread the word about their show.
“We don’t have a Ricky Martin...”
“You don’t need one,” I said immediately. And it’s the honest truth, coming from someone who read cover to cover Ricky Martin’s autobiography...
Go see this show. If you don’t, well, then, we’ll have to discuss our friendship.