Once, adapted for the stage from the motion picture by John Carney, and the book by Enda Walsh, opens the 2018 season at the Chemainus Theatre Festival on Friday, Feb. 9.
The romantic story is mainly about a Guy and a Girl who meet in an unexpected way, and where this chance encounter leads them.
Daniel Kosub (who plays Guy) first saw the movie when he was in Europe in 2007.
“I loved the movie. I thought the music was brilliant. It had this really beautiful story to it. It just felt the whole movie had a specific vibe created by the story and the music.”
Kraig Waye (who is musical director for the show and also appears as Eamon), was also moved by what he saw on screen.
“I also saw the show just as it was released and had an immediate connection to it as a songwriter and writer of stories. The music is fantastic. It’s so uniquely it’s own: the style they have created. I always identify it with the film. So once it was developed into a musical, I had to go see it when it came to Toronto to see how it translated onto the live stage. I play all the instruments that are featured in those songs. I was quite moved.”
The small stage at the Chemainus Theatre is perfect for the show, Kosub said.
“The story centres around two people and their burgeoning romance and the love they have for each other and this music. If anything, the story really lends itself to this size of stage. It brings the audience right in. It’s more intimate.”
The actor is also a singer/songwriter and finds it easy to relate to his role as Guy.
“I’ve gone through a lot of the same things the character I’m playing is going through. I think it will resonate with a lot of artists and people in the community in any profession. It taps into a really baseline humanity, this show,” he said.
The cast includes 11 people: 10 adult actors and one child.
Once is one of those musicals where the cast is the orchestra, Waye said.
“It’s different from a lot of the kinds of shows, like The Buddy Holly Story, or Ring of Fire, where the music is always portrayed in a particular way. They’re in a recording studio, or it’s treated like a live performance. In this show, it is treated differently. Some of it is done dramatically, which bumps it into musical land. It’s kind of a weird hybrid, it’s right in the middle. So even when Dan and Ali are playing a song together, the orchestration is filled out by the rest of the cast a la Greek chorus style. It supports the action. So even if you’re not physically in the scene, you are watching it and are contributing musically.”
Kosub said that casting actor/musicians has become really popular in recent years, not just at Chemainus.
“It works particularly well on this stage. But it’s a real cool conceit,” he said.
Music is what people will love about this show, he said.
“The baseline for this show is the music. As I recall the writers of the movie were really inspired by the music of Glen Hansard, and his music is one of the things that anchors the show. I think the music is going to be a huge takeaway in the show. We talked in rehearsal about how music conveys things that can’t be said. And that’s never been more true than in this show. There’s a lot of very dynamic relationships in the show and when a song is played, it allows insight into what that relationship is.”
“This is one of those shows where you leave thinking about something,” said Waye. “It’s not, oh, that was entertaining. I left really contemplating a lot of things. You take it beyond the theatre.”
Kosub said the show prompts thought, even in the preparation.
“We find ourselves totally moved in the process of working this and playing it, and thinking about what it all means. This show is about love and life and all variations of grey. It’s not all black and white.”
The music is easy to hear over and over again but Kosub thinks the whole package is memorable.
“I just think this is a show everyone should see. The thing to remember, too, is that it is also really fun. There’s a lot of Irish spirit in it, Czech spirit in it so you’ll really be entertained,” he said.
Once runs from Feb. 9 to March 10 so if you want to see this special musical, better make sure you book those tickets right away. Check out https://tickets.chemainustheatrefestival.ca/TheatreManager/1/login?event=0 or call 1-800-565-7738 to reserve by phone.