“Once” and for all - cast talk about major success and 11 Tony nominations - VIDEOS
David Patrick Kelly and Erikka Walsh about the atmosphere backstage over the enthusiastic salute from Broadway’s insiders
Bringing 'Once,' the new musical based on the 2007 Irish Oscar winning film of the same name, to Broadway was always going to be a huge gamble.
After all, it’s a low-key, intimate show a million miles from the flashier big budget draws it’s competing with. From the start the fear was that the homespun charm of 'Onc'e simply wouldn’t stand a chance against them.
There was good reason to be concerned. 'Once' originally opened off-Broadway (downtown, at the New York Theatre Workshop actually) to generally lukewarm reviews. Critics thought it amiable but slight.
But from the beginning the producers were unusually determined to work the show and take it to Broadway. They persisted through all the negative headlines, certain that the show would find its feet.
And with last week’s Tony Awards validation, 'Once' has proven them right.
Opening to rave reviews in March, 'Once' defied all the early naysayers by coming away with the largest haul of Tony nominations this year, a remarkable achievement for the little show that has sent the tightly-knitted ensemble behind the show into orbit. Sometimes it pays to make a wild bet.
The show’s impressive lineup of Tony nominations includes Best Musical, Best Director (John Tiffany), Best Lead Actor (Steve Kazee), Best Lead Actress (Cristin Milioti), Best Featured Actress (Elizabeth A. Davis), Best Book (Enda Walsh), Best Choreography (Steven Hoggett) and Best Orchestrations (Martin Lowe) as well as nominations for the show’s design elements.
For actor and musician David Patrick Kelly, 61 (best known for his cult roles in 'Twin Peaks' and 'The Warriors'), and for twenty-something actress and musician Erikka Walsh it’s a surreal development.
Kelly, whose grandparents on both sides hail from County Cork, finds his role in 'Once' allows him to finally access the traditional music that connects him to his Irish ancestry.
Onstage Kelly opens the show with a blistering, raise the rafters version of the Irish traditional classic “Raglan Road” that sets the tone for the whole night.
“Both my grandfathers came from Cork. One of them, Daniel Murphy, came here when he was 18 through Canada to Detroit where I grew up in a place known as Cork Town. His daughter Margaret Murphy gave me my mandolin when I was 12 years old,” Kelly told the Irish Voice.
“I first learned ‘Raglan Road’ off a Van Morrison record, and when I told Glen Hansard (the original male lead in the film version of 'Once') about this he approved it for the stage version of the show.”
Let’s just say it -- the musical 'Once' may be one of the most affectingly beautiful shows ever seen on the Broadway stage. It’s a simple and disarmingly moving tale about a boy and a girl who meet in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with unforgettable results.
It’s also a play about being a young mother and an artist at the same time. It’s about immigration and emigration, too, long standing Irish themes.
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