Once Upon Next Weekend

Once plays the Firehouse just one more weekend. Wish I had seen it sooner so that my endorsement here could give you more time for an experience that truly is beyond categories of “play” or “musical.”

More than any other theatrical event, including the film on which it was based (a huge hit at the Screening Room 15 years ago), it recalls this line from the introduction to a book published in 2008:

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is not a painting. It is an event.

Once at the Firehouse is an event. It begins before the program tells us it starts, and it continues after we leave the hall and make our way toward the stairs or elevators. In this sense, it recalls Renaissance faires–where I will be the next eight weekends*–that begin and end outside the gates before they open and after they close.

Between times at the Firehouse, the acting and music in Once could not be more entertaining or enjoyable. So, too, innovations in sound and lighting and the ingenious positioning and movement of at least a dozen characters and all kinds of musical props.

My reluctance to offer any specifics is only to avoid spoiling any of many surprises. Instead, I’ll just say that this production of Once will be as memorable as the lines of the great Celtic ballad that it evokes:

… a time to rise and a time to fall
Come fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all
Good night and joy be with you all


* A strolling piper at King Richard’s, Carver, Mass., weekends, Sept. 3 – Aug. 23, at the gate opening and closing.

First time I ever saw a cellist wear and walk with the instrument while playing. I’m at least thrice his age and have been around musicians all my adult life.

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