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On Stage: 'Once'


Often, when the subject of musical theatre comes up, someone will point out the unnatural audacity of people bursting into song in order to express how they feel about someone or something. Of course, as every musician will tell you, music is built expressly for just this task, even if it is created according to strict intellectual form and/or function. In the musical Once, the plot revolves around a songwriter and his work, so the songs we hear seem more organic to the unfolding of the story. 

Based on the 2007 film of the same name, Once is the story of Guy, a young Irish street musician whose day job is fixing vacuums in his father's shop, while at night, he pursues his dream of a life as a professional musician, performing his songs at various pubs around Dublin. Just as Guy is about give up on his dream, into the vacuum shop walks Girl, a Czech immigrant with a love for melody. What follows are the complicated  harmonies that are created in the relationship between artist and muse; and the intimacies of inspiration and the act of creation.

Another detail that makes Once stand out from the pack is that the cast acts as its own orchestra, so each actor is also a musician. You can see Once onstage at Century II on March 21st to March 23rd, courtesy of the Broadway League.

Sanda Moore Coleman received an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University in 1991. Since then, she has been the arts and community editor for The Martha's Vineyard Times, a teaching fellow at Harvard University, and an assistant editor at Image. In 2011, she received the Maureen Egan Writers Exchange prize for fiction from Poets & Writers magazine. She has spent more than 30 years performing, reviewing, and writing for theatre.