Once – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Lovely and lyrical are two words that identify and epitomize the Academy Award-winning, Grammy Award-winning Best Musical Theater Album and multiple Tony Awards including Best Musical “ONCE.” Well deserving of all these accolades, “ONCE” is gracing the stage of the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton until Sunday, October 14 and it is worth the drive in this glorious autumn season from anywhere in the state.

While an Irish bloke simply known as Guy, a sensitive Sam Sherwood, is singing his music and playing his guitar, a feisty and opinionated girl from Czechoslovakia, an inspiring Katie Barton, wanders in to the tavern in Dublin and recognizes his talent. Not shy, she immediately confronts him and becomes his muse. As it happens, Guy was on the verge of chucking his musical career and becoming a full time Hoover man, a repairman for vacuums, with his Da (Don Noble).

Wouldn’t you know it, the Girl has a Hoover that will not suck and soon they are making beautiful music together as she adds her piano talents to hi tunes. A lively chorus of musicians playing banjo, guitar, accordion, bass, drums and violin enrich and enliven the festive scene as the pair work to rescue his failing career and his sagging love life and restore his equilibrium. Based on a book by Enda Walsh and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova , “ONCE” is a thrilling and unforgettable homage to love and to life.

Call it penicillin or Prozac, but when the new girl enters the guy’s life, miraculous things start to happen. He is still caught in an old relationship, and even though his ex-girlfriend has moved to New York he can’t forget her. The girl offers to help him win her back, trading her assistance by playing the piano in exchange for his skills in fixing her broken vacuum cleaner.

The girl with her daughter Ivonka (Cadyn Malary) establishes a firm place in guy’s life, writing new songs with him and arranging a meeting with a bank manager (Andreina Kasper) to secure loans so he can move to the Big Apple and win back his old love.

Lyrical ballads like “Gold,” “Falling Slowly,” “The Hill” and “It Can’t Be About That” propel the story and build to the point where the guy regains faith in his own abilities. Clearly the two have given each other gifts, in words and music, that will sustain them as their paths intersect and separate. Ben Hope directs this song filled joy with a sensitive hand.

For tickets ($55, seniors $50,students $25, children $20), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday- Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at and 8 p.m. and Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Watch for the Fourth Annual Fall Golf Classic on Monday, October 8. Call 860-767-9520 ext. 205 for more information. An old fashioned day of joy will take pace on the Ivoryton Village Green on October 20, from 5-7 p.m., a Pumpkin Festival for the whole family.

Visit a bar in Dublin, where all the performers are also the musicians and are on stage the whole time. The festivities start fifteen minutes before showtime. Take a journey of discovery with one girl and one guy. The message is clear: “To live you have to love.”