Once is an utterly beautiful musical experience, and a Broadway show (it won eight Tonys at the 2012 awards) that connects all the more in the comparatively intimate confines of Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. It’s there, under the skillful direction of Kerry Meads and the musical direction of G. Scott Lacy, that this wistful musical makes everyone Irish for a day. Set in Dublin, Once is an unapologetically sentimental tale about love and believing in oneself an in others. Catie Grady portrays the Czech girl who inspires an uncertain Irish singer-songwriter (Michael Louis Cusimano) to artistic heights, and they fall into a love that can never be. Both, but especially Grady, are moving and magnetic presences on the Lamb’s stage, singing and playing instruments like the rest of the sizable cast.
The exquisite music and lyrics of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, consisting of brooding ballads and rousing band numbers alike, outshines Once’s mostly predictable story (based on the 2007 film). That’s fine. This is a production to be savored on a visceral more than a cerebral level, and one to be celebrated too. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 6/20/18.)
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat