Once: A New Musical – Original Broadway Cast Recording 2012
In April 2011 our production of Once was coming together in of all places – the basement of a church in Harvard! The plan was to workshop the script there – to learn the music and songs – to get a sense of the staging and to perform in a small theatre for a week and gauge what the hell we had. We were to do this in a packed three-week rehearsal period – in the basement of a church! (I mentioned that, right?) It should have been soul-destroying, exhausting work but really it was the opposite. I’ve never experienced such a creative environment before – such a positive rehearsal room. I used to turn up and sit there in awe of our director John Tiffany and movement director Steven Hoggett and watch as they whipped scenes out of thin air. Then our musical director Martin Lowe would floor me daily with his speed of thought, his amazingly concise direction and thunderous energy. I wanted to bottle the three of them up, freeze them and unleash them on my geriatric self some time in my sad future. I was lucky to be there. But I think we all felt that. From the start it was always our idea to create an ensemble. It’s something that’s inherent in all theatre productions of course but we wanted that to be our central philosophy. A cast of actors/musicians that would tell this delicate love story and would operate as a collective where one person can’t work without the other – where the group is more powerful than the individual – where the alchemy of different instruments, different voices can hit the air and become something gorgeous. It was an idea, a hope and somewhere in the casting – in the actors’ decisions to put themselves forward – a quite extraordinary collection of individuals gathered. It was sort of divine and probably right that we were rehearsing under a church! So we had each other, had a sweet love story that was finding its stage voice – and we had these songs. I’m not musical – in that I can’t play an instrument. I can belt out a song but it’s not singing as such – it’s more short bursts of vocalization that I call singing but it’s not. Anyone who’s seen my karaoke will vouch for that. I’m a “shouter.” It’s a mystery to me still how a song comes together. Story is my thing. I’m sure to many people writing a play is as baffling as songwriting is to me. But it’s the frailty of a three-minute song – the concise honesty of that expression – that it happens so fully for such a short amount of time. That amazes me. Glen and Marketa have carved out these powerful moments of honesty so completely. Whatever happened during the creation of these songs remains still. We understand that as a listener and as an audience. We know what it is to yearn for someone else, to lose a love, to feel unloved, to dream of an impossible union with someone else. They gave us these songs and we feel them wholly. Together with the film’s director John Carney they made an unashamedly romantic love story – whose simplicity and power astounded me. To develop this for the stage, with this ensemble of actors/musicians, has been a blessing for all involved. The goal always is to make a true expression – to be 100% honest with each other as makers – and to allow the characters to talk and speak as they would like. So here are the songs – and here are the voices – and this is the extraordinary cast of Once. It has been the sweetest of journeys.
– Enda Walsh
Guy: Steve Kazee (vocals, guitar) Girl: Cristin Milioti (vocals, piano) Emcee: J. Michael Zygo (vocals, guitar) Eamon: David Abeles (vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano) Andrej: Will Connolly (vocals, ukulele, bass) Reza: Elizabeth A. Davis (vocals, violin) Da: David Patrick Kelly (vocals, mandolin) Baruska: Anne L. Nathan (vocals, accordion) Svec: Lucas Papaelias (vocals, mandolin, banjo, drums) Bank Manager: Andy Taylor (vocals, cello) Ex-Girlfriend: Erikka Walsh (vocals, violin) Billy: Paul Whitty (vocals, guitar, percussion, cajon, cymbal) Ivonka: Claire Candela Musical direction by Martin Lowe Book by Enda Walsh Songs by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova “Gold” by Fergus O’Farrell “Abandoned in Bandon” by Enda Walsh