Normally, a newly-announced theatre-production is given a few months to bed in (or less if it's failing to reap financial rewards). So to learn of an eight-month residency being undertaken in the West End, straight away suggests that the Phoenix Theatre has every confidence in Once.
Assessing the musical's fortunes so far suggests they may have a 'keeper' in this simple but engaging romantic story about two musicians, an Irish man and a Czech girl, who fall in love and write songs about it. Sounds straightforward? Since when was love easy? Their chance meeting evolves into a full-blown flirtation and romance, songs are shared but, all the while, each of them has other commitments - husbands, wives, that sort of thing.
Originally, "Once" was produced as a low-budget musical in 2006. Released in 2007, the reluctant stars of the film also co-wrote most of its soundtrack. Best known for his role as frontman in Irish rock-band The Frames, Glen Hansard co-composed much of "Once" with The Swell Season's Markéta Irglová who appeared with him. New cast members have subsequently performed the starring roles as the musical has been adapted for the stage by Edna Walsh.
Initially performed off and on Broadway, Once has garnered several Tony Awards, including one for its set alone (set in an Irish pub whereby the actors take it in turns to sing, then act, then sing, all within the same setting. It has worked a treat. Other awards have been aimed at the songwriters, in particular for the signature song, "Falling Slowly" - previously a 2006 Frames single and album-track. After breaking the States' audiences' emotional resolve, it's now time for Londoner's to well-up and embrace to what might be a worthy successor to the theatre's long-running Blood Brothers production (now ending after two decades).
Once will begin at the Phoenix Theatre on 16th March and end on 30th November 2013, for which we have tickets on sale now - prices range from £19.50 to £85.