Every so often I go through a phase where I get stuck on an album on repeat. As soon as the last notes of the last song end, I'm looping right back to the beginning and starting all over again. Last month, it wasn't even an album...for a solid week, "Shake It Off" was the sole song of my commute (I've gotten REALLY good at the spoken portion in the middle). This month, I've classed it up a bit and switched over to the soundtrack to one of my stealth favorite musicals, "Once."
I was fortunate to receive free tickets from some family friends to see "Once" this April when it was at the Orpheum, and invited Hannah to join me. After a round (or two) of delicious sangria and (very) small plates at Solera with my parents and Aunt Kris, who were also seeing it that night, we raced over to the Orpheum early because of the unique pre-show activity. "Once" takes place primarily in an Irish pub, and for half an hour before the show starts, the bar on stage functions as a real bar, serving the theatergoers drinks and letting them mingle. Every actor in the show is also a musician for it, so Hannah and I grabbed glasses of white wine and watched them perform jigs, reels and medleys galore. I got really bold and snuck a photo of the Orpheum from the stage, because, let's be real, that'll never happen again. I love how you can see the other theater patrons sitting in the balcony! Talk about an amazing experience!
The show itself couldn't be more different than the usual, stereotypical musical fare. There are two main characters, who, nameless, are referred to only as "Him" and "Her." They both have other loves, but the story chronicles their unlikely falling as they come together to make music. All the actors are onstage at all times, and like I said, they all form the orchestra and ensemble. It's intensely engaging, and the music reflects that perfectly.
Driven by strings...guitar, violin, mandolin...and hand-drums, and piano...the music is evocative, plaintive and riotous by turn. As the show takes place in Dublin, the Celtic influence is overt at times and subtle at others, subsumed by the Eastern European influence brought in by "Her" and her family. And the lyrics! The lyrics slice away at heartstrings and create peace and just completely, entirely capture the sensations of falling in love, facing frustration with a partner, questioning what's right. My favorites are "Leave," "Falling Slowly" (duh), and "Gold." Lyrics:
Leave: "And the truth has a habit of falling out of your mouth, and now that it's come, if you don't mind, leave."
Falling Slowly: "Take this sinking boat and point it home;" "Raise your hopeful voice."
Gold: "And if a door be closed, then a row of homes start building, and tear your curtains down, for sunlight is like gold."
Simply writing them can't encapsulate how stirring it is to hear them. That sense of synergy is what's kept me coming back to the soundtrack for over a week now...if you get a moment (less than an hour will do), I highly, HIGHLY recommend it.