Once the Musical, Phoenix Theatre


When an Irish busker and a Czech girl meet through a shared love of music, their songwriting sparks a deep connection and a tender, longing romance that neither of them could have expected. Winner of 8 Tony Awards in 2012, including Best New Musical, and a 2013 Grammy Award, this unique stage adaptation takes you right to the heart of the action in a rapturous production. An exhilarating love story that refuses to play by the rules, performed by an extraordinary cast of actor-musicians, Once dazzles with invention, wit and unforgettable music.

You’d think a day of shopping and afternoon tea at Liberty’s would be a good enough treat for my birthday but as it was Arthur Darvill’s last performance in Once the Musical on the same Saturday that I was back in London it would have been rude not to pop along and see it. As you may know I do enjoy a bit of Doctor Who and while I wasn’t as enamoured with Amy Pond as some other people I know, Darvill’s Rory really came across as genuinely sweet and loving and I enjoyed his performance but I do think that live theatre is what distinguishes good actors from amazing ones, Darvill did not disappoint!

To be honest the show got off to a bit of a bad start with me due to what they call the pre-show. When we got there (around 15 minutes early I might add) we were a bit concerned that we has missed the start due to the fact that the pre-show had started, what this meant was that the actors were all on stage singing while some of the audience were up on stage at London’s only on stage bar. Bit of a strange concept but something different to enjoy regardless, my issue with it was there was no definitive start to the show as the pre-show blended into the main show as the lights dimmed. We were asked to be quiet by another audience member during the pre-show which I was a bit put out by given that the show hadn’t officially started and it all felt a bit messy in my opinion.

It didn’t take long for my annoyance to dissipate though thanks, in no small part, to the amazingly talented Zrinka Cvitesic who played the role of Girl as though she was born for it. Sadly not only was it Darvill’s last show but Zrinka’s as well which having been with the production from the beginning 18 months ago must have been a very hard thing to walk away from. The speeches at the end were heartfelt and there was a wonderful acknowledgement to the crazy fans who have been to see the show many, many, many times over! It’s a beautiful, heart-breaking, funny love story with some amazing songs and a stellar cast. Hopefully the new Guy and Girl have just as much chemistry as these two had on stage as it’s sure to be a long-running hit in the West end.

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