It’s always the quiet ones that surprise you.
The Irish film “Once,” shot in little more than two weeks for about $160,000, is a whisper of a movie that slides pleasantly along on the charm of its two lead performers. No one would have pegged it for the critical smash it became after it was released in 2006. The next year, it showed up on innumerable “best-of” lists, praised by critics for its soft-spoken and unhurried exploration of a brief musical friendship and quasi-love affair between a Dublin busker and a Czech immigrant. It also didn’t hurt that its catchiest tune, “Falling Slowly,” grabbed the 2007 Oscar for best original song.
After that, it was only a matter of time before movie-obsessed Broadway got its hooks into the story. As soon as it debuted at the New York Theater Workshop in 2011, audiences swooned. Its transfer to Broadway the next year resulted in massive crowds that have yet to abate and eight Tonys, including awards for best musical, book, direction, orchestrations and scenic, lighting and sound design.
In addition to ongoing American and Australian tours, the show is still running on Broadway and on London’s West End.
– Colin Dabkowski