Audiences Are “Falling Slowly” in Love with “Once”

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By Audrey Matusz

Tony award winning Broadway musical, Once, has arrived to the Wharton Center to tell audiences a classic when “Guy Meets Girl” story that is everything but traditional.

The audience meets the “Guy”, he is seriously contemplating walking away from his dream to be a musician. When he meets a Czech immigrant, “Girl,” her enthusiasm for his music restores new life in his ambitions. Their connection through music grows into a studio album as well as a deep, complicated love for one another.

The play is based on John Carney’s 2007 low-budget film that became a nationally recognized indie gem. The theatrical production remains true to the film and the highly acclaimed film score, including the Oscar winning song “Falling Slowly.” The cast functions as an on-stage orchestral pit. Matt DeAngelis plays the Girl’s fun loving roommate, Švec, which required him to learn the mandolin and banjo.

“I play five instruments in the show; I play mandolin, banjo, guitar, drums, and percussion…I played drums for 13 years and I’ve only played guitar well for, like, a year and a half. And I don’t read music so I had to figure it out on the fly.” DeAngelis said.

DeAngelis was part of Broadway and West End Company’s first national tours for Hair as well as the first national tour of Green Day’s American Idiot. DeAngelis says that being a cast member on Once has been a unique experience because it requires him to also think like a musician.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of three distinct companies that all were very close and I think that the work did that…[in Once] We all play music together and so I think that’s huge; the fact that we’re a band and the fact that we have to listen to each other every night. You can never go on stage and just mail it in because if you’re not listening you can’t play the songs.” DeAngelis said.

To keep with the theme of the Dublin-based film, the stage has transformed into an Irish Pub that the audience can order drinks from before the show and during intermission. In addition to the ambiance, cast members come out to the stage to warm up and play folk songs. The friendly atmosphere of the stage speaks to the humble and intimate-nature of this project.

Bob Hoffman, manager of public relations at the Wharton Center, describes Once as “romantic and powerful.”

“It leaves you thinking.” Hoffman said.

Once is showing at the Cobb Great Hall in the Wharton Center until Sunday, Oct. 19. Tickets start at $34 and can be purchased online at www.whartoncenter.com or at the ticket office.

Audrey sat down with Matt DeAngelis to talk about the performance.