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Review of Once the Musical at Phoenix Theatre London

Once a new musicalAt what point, during your fandom of a show, does reviewing it become a waste of time because quite frankly you’re never going to say a bad thing about it? In fact your defence will be a little too passionate. I’m probably at that point so I’m just going to say a few words regarding the merits of seeing Once a second time and let you about your day.

For a show like Once a second time is definitely a must, not just because the show is so utterly brilliant. For me, as a fan of the film, the first time I found myself nervous for the changes and the reinterpretation. For those going into it fresh, with little idea of the delivery I’ve heard there’s a lot to take in.

As I sat there on my second time I was able to sit back and take it all in. I’d played the soundtrack to death so I knew all the songs with their subtle melodies and lyrics. I could just enjoy it, getting swept away with the story of heartbreak and redemption.

By the time it came for Declan Bennett, playing the Guy with an understated charisma, to sing “Sleeping” I was lost, the tears started streaming. As the character’s backs are turned and Zrinka Cvitesic breaks into “The Hill”, you suddenly realise how much these characters have grown on you.

I love musicals for their in your face-ness, I love plays for their honesty and I love Once because it gets the best of both worlds. It’s minimal set is filled with life and energy from the outstanding cast who also acting as the orchestra. With all the effects in theatre at the moment, Once’s use of performance is refreshing.

As I’ve said so many times before Once deserves to be seen by everyone. If you’re not a fan of the theatre see it, lie that you hated it after but see it just to say you’ve tried, and you won’t be disappointed.

Review by Max Sycamore

Phoenix Theatre

20th September 2013

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