Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Once (music and lyrics by Glen Hansard Markéta Irglová; book by Enda Walsh) is based on the film of the same name and has much of the same romantic charmand lots of music, including the lovely, haunting "Falling Slowly," which was a bit of a hit when the film came out and won the Academy Award for Best Song. Plus, during pre-show, the cast performs a range of music, including Irish and Czech folk songs, and you can buy a glassor at least a red Solo cupof Guinness to complete the Irish pub feeling of the set designed by Brian Watson.
There's so much to like about this shownot the least of which is 42nd Street Moon securing the rights to a Tony-winning show so soon after its Broadway run and road company stop here a few years ago. Then there's the joyous and heartfelt music coming from the cast of 13, all of whom play instruments (guitar, fiddle, cello, mandolin, drums, tambourine) and sing and stomp their way through more than a dozen numbers. Their harmonies are lovely, making them the best chorus 42nd Street Moon has ever assembled.
But all those pale in comparison to the accomplished and compelling performance of Olivia Clari Nice as Girl. Just as her character seizes control of the show from the opening moments, so too does Nice seize control of our hearts and minds with a lovely, nuanced, deeply textured portrayal of Girl, a bloom-where-she's-planted sort of woman who makes the very best of every situation in which she finds herself. "Life is good. Even in Dublin," she says. Her accent is sweet and endearing, and she displays an innocence that somehow melds with her confidence to create a most wonderful portrayal. Physically, she moves in ways that make it seem gesture is a second language to her that she also speaks with an accent.
As Guy, Corbin Mayer manages a pretty decent Irish accent (kudos to dialect coach Nancy Carlin) and a gruff, guarded air that is tune with his character. His singing can be both delicate and driving, sometimes reaching up into high registers with a guttural cry that makes you want to stroke his head and tell him everything will ultimately be okay.
Oncein this laudable productionis one of those shows you may want to see twice.
Once, through June 30, 2019, at 42nd Street Moon, Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco CA. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 6:00pm, with matinees Sundays at 3:00pm. Tickets are $28-$75, available at 42ndStreetMoon.org, or by calling 415-255-8207.