OFFBEAT: Chicago run of Broadway's 'Once' a reward of spirit and soul

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-10-14T00:00:00Z 2013-10-14T12:02:07Z OFFBEAT: Chicago run of Broadway's 'Once' a reward of spirit and soulBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

 I see many, many stage productions, and few and far between, are those so stellar and monumentally moving, that right after I leave the theater, I'm already eager to return to catch another performance before the work ends a run or leaves town to continue on tour.

"Once," a new Broadway tour for the musical ranked as winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and winner of the 2013 Grammy Award winner for Best Musical Theater Album, is just launching and Chicagoland audiences are the fortunate faces for this first look.

English actor Stuart Ward and Danni de Waal, who brilliantly play the complicated romantic leads, are pure talent at its finest.

"Once" is playing the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. in Chicago for a limited engagement now until Oct. 27.

Last week, my friend and former Times editor Kathy MacNeil, of Crown Point, asked me about a suggestion for her to spend an afternoon with her children Eryn and John while they are on fall break from Valparaiso University. "Once" was the without a doubt perfect fit.

Not only is this talented touring cast able to sing and act, they also play all of their own instruments, neatly folded in, for this just over two hour, one-intermission musical.

"Once" is the celebrated new musical based on the 2006 Academy Award-winning film. The show features the Academy Award-winning music and lyrics of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, a book by award-winning Irish playwright and screenwriter, Enda Walsh, direction by the acclaimed Scottish director John Tiffany, movement by Steven Hoggett and music supervision and orchestrations by Martin Lowe.

An anchored New York City run of "Once" is also still running on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre where it started performances on Feb. 28, 2012.

"Once" tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, their unexpected friendship and collaboration evolves into a powerful but complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together.

The press materials didn't alert to this added bonus, which I WILL tell readers about. Arrive to the performance earlier, because there's also a "pre-show" on stage for audiences to enjoy, with not only the musicians strumming for the chance to let audience members come up on stage and dance a bit. But also, the recreated Irish pub set on stage really is open to serve drinks to patrons! At intermission, the same is also true.

Just hearing the signature song from "Once," the dream-inducing, heart-tugging "Falling Slowly," leaves you wistful for a return trip to this special story of characters filled with hope, dreams and possibilities, the latter, some of which, yet to be realized.

Tickets are $27 to $95 at (800) 775-2000, at the box office, or visit or

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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