Once at The Cliffs Pavilion Review

January 14, 2020 by Emily Mertens

The first time I’d heard of Once was probably about seven years ago. My dad watched the film one night and told me about how amazing the music was, next thing he’d bought the soundtrack album and was playing it full blast in the car whenever we’d go out. Packed with heartfelt melodies and a contemporary folk-inspired twang, the songs were unique and uplifting. I was therefore thrilled to have the chance to see it come to life on stage at the Cliffs.

Once is a stunningly romantic tale following the story of a Dublin guitarist who meets and falls in love with a Czech woman. Together, with help from a few of their friends, they create a demo CD of his original music in the aim of getting him a record deal. The tale of their short five day romance is expressed through a captivating range of original songs from the film, all performed live by the actors themselves.

The play begins as soon as we take to our seats. Bursting with Irish culture, I feel as if I had just landed slap bang in the middle of a traditional Irish pub. Full of character, joy and enthusiasm, the opening sets the scene perfectly.

When the Oscar-winning Best Original Song, Falling Slowly, starts to play, I am immediately transported into the back of my dad’s car, filled with the memories of driving through the Essex countryside all those years ago. The nostalgia mixed with the gracious live performance sends goosebumps all over. The singing is pitch perfect and performed with a gripping emotion by both Daniel Healy and Emma Lucia, who is particularly impressive. The well-loved song is brought eagerly to life by the whole cast and their range of instruments, from a cello to a mandolin, and the performance couldn’t be more magical.

The harmonies are spot on, sometimes even jaw-dropping, and despite not including all of the songs from the film, it completely exceeds my expectations. Each and every cast member is impressive, whether it be with their acting, instrumental talent or singing; it is very clear as to why Once is recognised as a Broadway and West End hit. Ending with a well deserved standing ovation, Once is a one-off musical that we can so luckily experience in our local theatre.

If you get the chance to see this enchanting performance, please do. And have a listen to the soundtrack, just so you can appreciate the music that tiny bit more. This musical holds a special place in my heart, bringing back fond memories of my childhood whilst also making me want to book a flight to Dublin ASAP!

On at the Cliffs Pavilion until Saturday 18th January 2020



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