After a pandemic-induced hiatus, Renegade Arts Co. has returned to the stage with a new production of ONCE, running until June 25th.
Featuring Oscar, Grammy, and Tony-award winning music by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, stars of the original 2007 film from which the musical is based, ONCE the musical is a week-in-the-life of a busking vacuum repair- man and Czech immigrant. In Dublin, the duo meet, make music, and help each other to re-discover themselves, loves, and life.
Stars Michael Bernard as Guy, and Olesia Shewchuk as Girl, ably do most of the heavy lifting, appearing in almost every scene and joining the orchestra when not. Bernard has a charming leading man quality while also able to portray the emotionally stunted boy-man still living with his father above their shop. Throughout the play we see Guy grow from the later to the former. Unsure if by direction or by the easing of opening-night nerves, Bernard’s vocals also grow in strength and confidence as the musical progresses. Olesia Shewchuk brings the bold and brash aspects of the wise-beyond her years Girl, while also allowing the audience to see the cracks in her world-weary veneer. Bernard and Shewchuk’s vocal blended nicely together, especially standing up to the task of the Oscar-winning Falling Slowly duet. As the second song in the show, it sets the tone for the enjoyments to come, musically. When joined by the rest of the company on other songs, the whole room becomes one to faithfully honour the outstanding soundtrack. The lush tender tunes balanced by the kitchen party atmosphere of other Irish-folk inspired knee-slappers.
Renegade’s The Shop Theatre in the South Vancouver, Marpole neighbourhood lends itself perfectly to the stripped down staging of ONCE. As the company of performers are both the cast and orchestra, they simply move from their dialogue-role to musician-role by taking a seat to the side of the stage lending a unique intimacy to this production. The compact room, small audience and close proximity to the performers really allows the audience’s mind to take them to a the small Dublin, bar, studio, music shop, vacuum repair store as the scene requires.
Take yourself on the journey to Dublin to find reawakened lost love, and support Renegade Arts production of ONCE running until June 25. Tickets and details available online at renegadeproductions.net/theatre-company