After the Met, we went back to the apartment and Jack came to meet me. It was time for dinner and Once!
For dinner, we headed to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, in Times Square. The waitstaff are all aspiring Broadway actors, so they perform during the meal, singing all sorts of songs from “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” to the Confrontation Scene from Les Miserables. (Which also involved throwing straws at each other, a nice touch.) It was REALLY loud, but also really fun. However, you do not come here if you wanted to have a conversation with the people you’re eating with that evening!
Our waiter was a great singer (of course), and the food was surprisingly really good. I’d heard you really didn’t go here for the food, you went for the entertainment, but my burger was perfectly cooked, and it came with waffle fries, which are always fun.
Since the curtain for Once is at 7–an hour earlier than most Broadway shows–we had to sort of hustle our dinner, otherwise I would have wanted to try some dessert! The theater where the show plays (The Bernard Jacobs) is only about 1/2 mile from the diner, through Times Square.
Once is a show you want to be early for, because at 6:30, the cast comes on stage and serves drinks and warms up with some great tunes. The actor who plays Da (David Patrick Kelley) came over to us during the pre-show and it was awesome. I will love him forever. 🙂 (He’s a great actor, but he also seemed really sweet.) Eventually the stage hands clear the set while the cast continues to play, and the actor playing Guy (Arthur Darvil, probably best know for Dr. Who) gradually starts the first song of the show, “Leave.” It was such a great way to start a show–the lights gradually went down, an d the show began.
The show is unusual in a lot of respects. You really have to see it to get it, and love it. First, the actors are the orchestra, but since this show is about a song writer and a pianist, it works perfectly, and not just as a gimmick (as seen in versions of “Sweeney Todd” where they do this, or “Company”). So the cast members are always onstage, with their variety of instruments. Some of them play upwards of five instruments! (I play two. Five is like, wow.) The Girl (Joanna Christie, Mr. Selfridge) enters through the auditorium and comes up on stage while Guy is singing.
The book is what really makes this show come alive. The music is seamlessly woven in to the book and the action, and the actors are fantastic, top to bottom. It’s hard to describe how great this show is. It’s not sad, but it’s wistful–in the end, Guy and Girl do the right things, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some pain involved. It’s now my new favorite show, and you must see it. It’s so unique and truly special.
The only teeny note I had was that someone needs to teach Ms. Christie to use her diaphragm to breathe. She was using her upper chest a lot, and that should not be moving, so it was sort of irritating. But she does have a lovely voice, as does Mr. Darvil, who has an incredible emotional range.
Anyway, get thee to this show.
Jack and I had a great time, even buying matching Once shirts (Well, OK, his is the guy’s version, and mine’s the girl’s crewneck, but whatever.)
We got back around 9:45, and Jack still had homework. And I had to pack. Sadly.