THE LOSS OF LOVE “FALLING SLOWLY” KEEPS THIS STORY OF IMMIGRATION AND ROMANCE UPLIFTING
This summer the Gateway stage beams with love and passion in the beautiful regional Bay Area premiere of ONCE the musical now on stage at 42nd Street Moon theatre only through June 30th. As you enter the Gateway Theatre the cast greets you on stage as they are play rousing folk Celtic and Czech pre show music. From the energy you see on stage you can see this talented cast is each playing an instrument. The inventive staging immediately breaks through the fourth wall as you are physically drawn into the performance. The intimate Gateway venue is the perfect size for this production.
ONCE is based on the Oscar winning film by John Carney with music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglova and a book by Enda Walsh. “ONCE does not follow the typical conventions of a flashy musical. ONCE is the kind of show that gets inside you and rattles you with recognition,” says director / choreographer/ costume designer Cindy Goldfield. “In addition to the themes of immigration and cross-cultural migration, we watch the two characters connect and find a shared passion and sensibility, and while doing so, we remember our own version of this universal heartache.”
The story of Irish vacuum repair Guy (Corbin Mayer) and a Czech Girl ( Olivia Nice) both slowly gravitating towards the other that reveals a touching relationship. It doesn’t take long for you to connect with the emotions as you come to care about these likeable characters, singing and playing their hearts out in a Dublin music store, brought together through music, following their dreams, thinking about what could have been, with someone they once knew. The opening number and banner song Guy sings “Falling Slowly” is melodic. The brilliant Corbin Mayer, who stepped into to role only days before opening night, is a highlight of this already stunning cast. Both Mayer and Nice are vets in the role of Girl and Guy. Nice has played the young mother in ONCE a few times; winning the Bardway Award in Ashland. Nice’s wonderful voice brought me to tears more than once including her solo “The Hill”.
The unnamed Guy, an aspiring but lost Irish singer-songwriter; she, a lively and irresistible classically trained Czech pianist who relocated to Dublin. They are star-crossed lovers who become fast friends and soulmates, who together experience love and heartbreak. They provide each other support and understanding when they need it. They are at a crossroads in their lives, and both hold a special place for one another in their hearts and memories. There are plenty of romantic musicals, but ONCE has a unique and elegant touch of intimacy, and stakes claim to a smaller group of musicals that failed to create this true celebration.
The central story suggests that life always appears on the edge of love, is the only life that can be beautiful. Surrounded by 13 actor-musicians in the middle of an onstage Dublin setting, music Director Allen kept this amazing score booming featuring, folk infused score that feels refreshing. The captivating songs “Sleeping” and “Gold” sung in a capella fill the Gateway theatre with true passion and celebration.
The company includes Matt Davis, Ben Euphrat, Devin Renee Kelly, Brady Morales Woolery, Ariela Morgenstern, Bryan Munar, Christina Owens, Rob Ready, Colin Thomson, Myra Chachkin, the youngest member ACT vet, Emma Berman. One of the closing numbers “The Moon” is touching and quietly profound.
Each actor equipped with their own instruments from guitars to violins to harmonicas - offer stylish ballads to transition to the next scene. Local favorite, Bryan Munar, adds perfect diversity to this company and shows off his ideal voice during the preshow. When this company starts moshing together and singing, it’s a show stopping force to be reckoned with. Rob Ready scores big laughs as Billy, the frugal and grumpy music shop owner. 42nd Street Moon vet Colin Thompson who plays “Da” is graced with a few touching moments playing Guy’s father. The superb Brady Morales-Woolery's, Andrej, plays the wise immigrant dreaming to one day manage a fast food chain. Devin Renee Kelly is the handsome manipulator, Reza, the compelling Matt Davis plays the wanna be rock star, Bank Manager, and Ben Euphrat as the charming drummer Svec.
Goldfield, who both directed and choreographed this tale, continues to dazzle with her distinct attention and detail. She created a charming, funny, relatable and poignant tale that will make you laugh and cry. ONCE tugs at your heartstrings with lovely music and touching performances. Brian Watson’s set captures the look and feel of an earthy Dublin music hall, home, instrument store and with easy set up many other spaces. The cast is on stage the entire time - set up on the side sets and walls full of instruments of Irish culture. It has a working-class feel, and the warm golden lighting by Michael Palumbo brings the intimacy of the tale and its changing moods of dance and cheers.The appealing naturalism of Watson’s artistic design has a deep feel with Travis Rexroat’s sound design that keeps the city sounds as a creek chorus that backs the Celtic soul of the story. Voice coach Nancy Carlin had the challenge to keep the 13 member company sounding authentic, and stage manager Alicia Lerner was spot on with all the front house entrances.
Artistic Directors Daren A.C. Carollo and Daniel Thomas have brought a bravo craft team and actors some from beyond the Bay to bring this lovely musical to 42nd Moon. Director Goldfield staged a beautiful story of immigration and artistic passion that at times will make you dance from your seat. The cast and couple make romantic, and hauntingly beautiful music together. ONCE is not to be missed. 42nd St Moon has announced their 2019/20 season that opens with TITANIC: The Musical in Concert opens Sept 7th. HOT MIKADO opens Sept 25th and MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG the play and musical play in repertory Summer of 2020. But in the meantime join the cast of ONCE for some flawless show stomping celebration of love and loss, and the power to move on.
42nd Street Moon Presents
the Bay Area regional premiere of
Book by Enda Walsh
Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglova
Based on the motion picture written and directed by John Carney
Directed and Choreographed
by Cindy Goldfield
Music Director Eryn Allen
MUST CLOSE JUNE 30th
Two hours and fifteen minutes, with one intermission.
215 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94111
Photos by Ben Krantz Studio
The cast of ONCE features Emma Berman as “Ivonka,” Matt Davis as “Bank Manager,” Ben Euphrat as “Svec,” Devin Renee Kelly as “Reza,” Corbin Mayer as “Guy,” Brady Morales Woolery* as “Andrej,” Ariela Morgenstern* as “Baruska,” Bryan Munar as “Eamon,” Olivia Nice* as “Girl,” Christina Owens as “Ex-Girlfriend,” Rob Ready as “Billy,” Colin Thomson* as “Da” and Myra Chachkin as “Emcee.”
Director Goldfield also be serving as Costumer Designer and Ms. Allen, the creative
team includes Michael Palumbo as Lighting Designer, Brian Watson as Scenic Designer, Travis
Rexroat as Sound Designer/Mic Operator, Lauren Howry* as Assistant Stage Manager and Alicia Lerner* as Stage Manager.
VMEDIA ARTS INTERVIEWS CINDY GOLDFIELD