Hit show Once set to transfer to London’s West End

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Based on the 2006 Irish film of the same name, Once was adapted into a play in 2011, opening off-Broadway initially before transferring to the bright lights and big city stage earlier this year. Now, Shows in London is pleased to announce that Once is making its way across the pond to London’s West End.

Planned to open in March 2013 at the Phoenix Theatre, Once tells the brief story of an encounter between a ‘girl’ and a ‘guy’ – their characters remain nameless throughout the production. Set over one week, it follows the meeting between an Irish musician, who is busking with his guitar in a busy market street of Dublin, and an immigrant Czech flower seller, who is captivated by his songs and pesters him with questions about his music.

It soon emerges that she, too, is a musician – and they embark on an ephemeral journey of music-making, their passion for the art serving the central role in the storyline. However, as an audience member, it’s easy to get caught up in the raw sense of will-they-won’t-they, as she reveals she has an estranged husband and lives with her toddler and mother, while he pens lyrics about his ex-girlfriend who left him to live in London.

All the songs were written and performed by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová – who starred as Guy and Girl in the original 2006 film and had worked together on previous collaborations also. The success of the film can be attributed to, in part at least, the fact that Hansard and Irglová were not trained actors, but true musicians. The concept of the movie had spent many years in development, but only got the green light from the Irish Film Board to start production during a period when there was no chief executive in place – instead, given the ‘go ahead’ by a more junior executive. However, this luck came with a caveat of being restricted to a lower budget of around €150,000.

In fact, they managed to bring the final bill in at €130,000 and this brought their per-screening averages at the Box Office to significant levels. However, its true success will be better measured in the awards it has won, including the Oscar for best original song for “Falling Slow”. The film’s soundtrack also earned a nomination for a Grammy – and has been lauded by the critics.

Once - 2006 Film

It’s therefore no wonder that a stage play was soon produced – opening at the New York Theatre Workshop in December 2011, before a transfer to Bernard Jacobs Theatre on Broadway in February 2012. Arguably, the stage production has enjoyed even greater success – with 11 Tony nominations, winning 8 of the categories.

With this in mind, we’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of Once to the West End. Who knows? It could be the next hottest show in London!