The often unsung heroes of the Broadway musical are the men and women who provide the soundtrack to the performances that touch our hearts. But from February 24 to March 1, the orchestra pit at Bass Concert Hall will be empty as the actors in Once create memorable musical moments from the stage.
“It’s a story that really brings the audience in rather than pushing itself out to the them in the manner of a traditional Broadway musical,” explains Ryan Link, a supporting cast member who lends his voice, acting talent and musicianship to this romantic Tony Award-winning musical.
“It’s pretty non-traditional in that all of the actors play instruments. There are 12 of us on stage for most of the show. From guitars to mandolins to a cello, a couple of violins and a piano.”
Unassuming in every way, from the simple set to the lighting to the costumes, the music drives this story of a Dublin street musician and a young woman who takes a strong interest in his powerful love songs.
The production is inspired by the 2007 film of the same name that starred musicians Glen Hasard and Markéta Irglová. The two also wrote and performed all of the songs, and main track “Falling Slowly” won the Oscar for Best Original Song. Link says it’s the tune most people walk away humming.
Because every character in the show is a musician, the timing of the numbers is natural. “The musical moments happen sort of organically because the characters would play and sing a song at that time. It's not like in traditional musicals where words are failing you so you have to sing about it,” Link says.
“It’s really beautiful music. It is a very moving show,” he says. But that’s not the show’s only appeal. “It’s surprisingly funny ... The dialogue is great and I think it sneaks up on you and kind of leaves this feeling of life being good even if it is bittersweet sometimes.”
“I think the audience can relate to the unconventional love that happens. It’s not a typical happy ending love story. It’s about how people help you get through the things that you can’t let go of.”
Go to Broadway in Austin for ticket information. Arrive 15-20 minutes early for the pre-show festivities that allow audience members to order a drink from the Irish pub set that serves as the show’s main backdrop. Pre-show bar patrons will be serenaded with traditional Irish and Czech music.