The New York Times reports that the rumored stage version of Once, the indie film hit about a busker making music and finding love on the streets of Dublin, will make its debut in November. However, instead of aiming for Broadway, producers have decided to open it in a small scale production at New York Theatre Workshop. I was nervous about this property being turned into a musical given that the film is a favorite; it contains one of the most effective and swoon-worthy depictions of making music ever filmed when the lead couple performs an impromptu duet on the Oscar-winning “Falling Slowly”. So how would they possibly translate this quiet, wonderfully unassuming movie to the stage? Well, let us count the ways that the details of this announcement give me hope:
1. Just choosing to go with a small scale production says they’ve actually watched the movie. Once is about as intimate and “tiny” a story as one could imagine. A helicopter escape from Dublin or a chandelier dropping on the music shop are not necessary.
2. The irreplaceable composers (and stars) of the film, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, are writing the score. They’re real life relationship may not have worked out, but their musical collaboration is singularly successful (listen to songs from their second album performing as The Swell Season).
3. The rest of the team is an indie all-star list: book by Enda Walsh (Penelope), direction by John Tiffany (the riveting Black Watch) and choreography by Steven Hoggett (Peter and the Starcatcher). I love big Broadway shows, but this is one time I don’t want to see the creators of Hairspray on the poster.
4. The set is described as being “a lot of empty space” and “reflects our aesthetic of prizing simplicity and theatricality.” See #1. It sounds like they’re heading for Brief Encounter territory (last year’s simply lovely Tony nominated romance) and that sounds just about right.
After the jump, watch some scenes from the film version as you listen to the achingly perfect “Falling Slowly”.