The Chemainus Theatre Festival’s opened its 26th season with Once, a surprising love story in the form of a musical play that will waft away those winter blues.
The surprise is that the two people involved are brought together by a love of music, then float along on it, and, in the end are somehow separated by it.
Along the way, they learn a lot about each other and about what really matters in their lives.
Allison Lynch is Girl and Daniel Kosub is Guy in the Chemainus production, that runs until Saturday, March 10, and they are superbly matched. Lynch comes across as adorable, zestful, loving, and a stander of no nonsense, while Kosub is devilishly attractive, talented, and in strong need of kick in the backside.
They meet because of a song, make friends over a vacuum cleaner, and then they’re off with stops along the way to absorb a boisterous Czech family, an amorous music shop owner, and a cello-playing bank executive.
There’s humour, pathos, and a lot of great music and dancing, too.
This is a play where the individual performances are everything, because one weak character would unbalance the whole team. Rest assured, however, with this cast in place, all is well.
From the very beginning, (which on Fridays and Saturdays includes a chance for theatregoers to take part in a rowdy pub night pre-show onstage) the audience is drawn into the story, and watchers find themselves savouring each new detail, laughing at delightful silliness and smiling at the way the tough home truths tossed about manage to land as softly as feathers.
Be sure to keep an ear open for the bank manager’s solo by Jon-Alex Macfarlane, and an eye out for some very hot dancing by the sexy Reza (Stepanie Cadman), not to forget the laugh-a-minute recap of the Czech family’s favourite soap opera.
Theatre fans will note particularly in this show the skillful use of lighting that makes characters appear almost by magic on the static set, and the superb musicianship of the entire cast as they stroll in and out of focus, adding texture and colour to a wistful yet fascinating tapestry of life.