Once the Musical is the stage version of the Academy Award-winning film that went on to win the 2012 Tony for Best Musical. A small show filled with quadruple-threat performers, Once the Musical came out of nowhere to win people's hearts, and now the music is set down for posterity in the original Broadway cast recording.
The Music & the Cast
With Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the cast album opens with a bang of an Irish-infused jig that soon gives way to an emotional ballad that sets up the story of the "Guy," who had his heart broken. At an Irish pub, he meets "Girl," and over the course of a week, they share their emotions through their music. The styles range from the Irish fare to pop-flavored love songs, from quirky interludes to traditional Czech folk tunes.
The cast includes Steve Kazee as the "Guy," Cristin Milioti as the "Girl," along with David Abeles as "Eamon," Will Connolly as "Andrej," Elizabeth A. Davis as "Reza," David Patrick Kelly "Da," Anne L. Nathan as "Baruska," Lucas Papaelias as "Svec," Andy Taylor as "Bank Manager," Erikka Walsh as the "Ex-Girlfriend," Paul Whitty as "Billy," and J. Michael Zygo as the "Emcee."
Once the Musical follows a rare tradition of having the cast play the instruments that accompany the singers. Every person in the small ensemble cast plays an instrument as well as sings.
The vocal performances by all singers is absolutely spot on. The featured comedic spoofs such as "Broken-Hearted Hoover Sucker Guy" and "Abandoned in Bandon" are hilarious. The ensemble brings a palpable energy to the cast album that easily translates the stage performances to digital audio. It is easy to hear why this production won the Tony for Best Musical.
Steve Kazee as "Guy" delivers a performance so touching and powerful, goosebumps form from listening to his first song, "Leave," with its raw emotion pulling every heart string. His softer approach to "Falling Slowly" and "Gold" perfectly balances the brutal, deliberate expression of his character in "Say It to Me Now."
The sensual, seductive "If You Want Me" as purred by Cristin Milioti almost makes you forget you are listening to a Broadway cast album and not a hypnotic trance CD. Milioti's voice is achingly poignant on "The Hill," which is beautifully orchestrated for piano and strings.
The Wrap Up
As a Musical Theatre devotee, I am leery of pop musicals, preferring shows in which the performers should earn their "triple-threat" status, not just stand in the spotlight and sing a solo or skip around on stage. Once the Musical allays my fears that Broadway has evolved too far from his origins of quality music and solid vocal performances.
The cast album of Once the Musical not only brings the energetic stage show to your media player, it conveys every ounce of raw emotion of the journey of the heart. Get this album.
1. The North Strand - David Abeles, Will Connolly, Elizabeth A. Davis, David Patrick Kelly, Cristin Milioti, Anne L. Nathan, Lucas Papaelias, Andy Taylor, Erikka Walsh, Paul Whitty, and J. Michael Zygo
2. Leave - Steve Kazee
3. Falling Slowly - Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti
4. The Moon - Will Connolly
5. Ej Pada Pada Rosicka - Elizabeth A. Davis;Will Connolly;Cristin Milioti;Anne L. Nathan;Lucas Papaelias
6. If You Want Me - Cristin Milioti
7. Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy - Steve Kazee
8. Say It To Me Now - Steve Kazee
9. Abandoned In Bandon - Andy Taylor
10. Gold - Steve Kazee
11. Sleeping - Steve Kazee and J. Michael Zygo
12. When Your Mind's Made Up - Steve Kazee
13. The Hill - Cristin Milioti
14. It Cannot Be About That - Elizabeth A. Davis, David Patrick Kelly, Anne L. Nathan, Erikka Walsh, Paul Whitty, and J. Michael Zygo
15. Gold (A Cappella) - David Abeles, Will Connolly, Elizabeth A. Davis, David Patrick Kelly, Cristin Milioti, Anne L. Nathan, Lucas Papaelias, Andy Taylor, Erikka Walsh, Paul Whitty, and J. Michael Zygo
16. Falling Slowly (Reprise) - Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti