The Broadway Review: Once

Date Seen: Saturday, March 1st, 2014
Seating: Second Row Orchestra
Cost of Tickets: $40 per ticket
Ticket Source: General Rush
Rating: 2 thumbs up!
Winner of 8 2012 Tony Awards including BEST MUSICAL, ONCE is a truly original Broadway experience. Featuring an impressive ensemble of actor/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, ONCE tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician who's about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. As the chemistry between them grows, his music soars to powerful new heights... but their unlikely connection turns out to be deeper and more complex than your everyday romance. Emotionally captivating and theatrically breathtaking, ONCE draws you in from the very first note and never lets go. It's an unforgettable story about going for your dreams and the power of music to connect us all.
~*~Behind the New Feature~*~

The Broadway Review is a new feature here at Lili's Reflections meant to share my personal experiences with Broadway shows with my amazing readers. I figured we can all fangirl and you can learn about new ways to see shows! This feature was inspired when I opened my nineteenth birthday gift from my Aunt, only to find a special binder meant for collecting playbills from Broadway shows. "You're in New York City! Take advantage of the possibilities!" she said, and indeed I have. Thus, all of my experiences are here for your convenience. A small disclaimer though...I am by no means the perfect critic when it comes to musical theater. It's simply a love of mine that makes me hate the fact that I don't have any talented bone in my body, thus this feature is meant to be fun instead of truly analytical. It has two parts, the journey to the tickets to explain how you may have the chance to see shows and my analysis of the actual show to see if it was worth it.

This feature will be posted sporadically to coincide with when I see shows!

Rating scale: two thumbs down, one thumb up, or two thumbs up.

~*~The Journey To Tickets~*~

I've had my eye on ONCE for quite a while, but I had nobody that wanted to see it with me. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and force my Aunt, the one who got me my new playbill collection binder, to come see the show for me if I managed a way to get two tickets for under $100. I scored seats in the second row of the orchestra for $40 a piece. This was not an easy process, but it was well worth it if you ask me.

I woke up at seven o'clock in the morning on Saturday, layered up, and took the A train up to Times Square where I walked the few blocks to the theater that ONCE calls home, the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, and hunkered down for the next two and a half hours. I was the first one on line and I immediately began kicking myself because a) I forgot to pick up a large hot chocolate with whipped cream from my campus Starbucks and b) it was cold. And when I say cold, I mean that by the time I got my tickets my bones were so chilled that when I went back to my dorm room and put on sweatpants and my heaviest socks and sweatshirt after turning my heat on high, I shivered in bed under all the blankets I owned for a solid hour before I began to feel this strange thing called warmth once again.

But the wait was well worth it. I met a random guy on line from NYU and we talked about life and traveling, our families and our hopeful futures. The wonderful thing about New Yorkers is that not only are some surprisingly friendly, but we're all open after living in such a beautiful city and, oddly enough, can get into the most unexpected deep conversations and I never even learned his name. Yet for those two hours, he was the most interesting man in the world.

The cool thing about ONCE is that it is a general rush as opposed to a student rush, meaning people of all ages can rush it in the morning if they're willing to be at the box office at ten o'clock in the morning when it opens. However, the amount of tickets available and the seating placement of the tickets for said shows are at the discretion of the ticket takers, which is why you have to get there so early. It's a gamble. A lot of people get cut off from getting tickets near the end of the line. When it's nice out, you have to get there as early as 6am sometimes in order to get tickets, which is why it truly is safer to order tickets online unless you're as broke as the average college student. I was incredibly lucky that I was first on line. The three surrounding shows in the area (Pippin, Les Miserables, and The Bridges of Madison County) were already at least ten people deep in their lines by 7:45 am. 15 minutes after I showed up, the line for ONCE was twenty people deep. I seriously got lucky. I can't even repeat that enough times.

At ten am, I walked into the box office and was handed the best set of tickets that they had available through the rush for the eight o'clock showing, second row orchestra on the far left. Though these seats carry the official title of partially obstructed view, we saw absolutely everything except a chair sitting in the corner that was never used. If this was a weekday, the tickets are sold for $35 a piece instead of $40. Also worth noting, you can choose to purchase a single ticket or a pair of tickets after the wait, but a single person on line can retrieve no more then two tickets. So worth almost losing all of my toes.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~
ONCE takes place in Dublin, Ireland when a struggling musician who fixes vaccuums is about to give up on his dreams because his life is heading down the drain. Enter a beautiful girl who is identified as Girl and she turns his life upside down--giving him a reason to live and a reason to love his music by reigniting his long lost passion for life, love, and music. While the story progresses and Guy heads down the path to becoming a big-time musician, a love story emerges.
Unfortunately for us, the actress who plays Girl (female lead) and the performer who plays Billy (main secondary character) were both out sick. Fortunately for us, the lead actor, Guy (played by Paul Alexander Nolan), was still there and the under-studies were so damn talented that I would have had no idea I wasn't watching the original cast if it weren't pointed out to me. All actors play several instruments and play them on stage throughout the play, making the already untalented audience members like me feel even more untalented.

Surprisingly, this show had me laughing my ass off. I went in knowing that the talent would be off the walls--and it was--and that the song-writing was superb--and it was--and that the lead was beyond perfection--and he sure as hell was--but I wasn't expecting it to be as hilarious as it was. I swear, I've got a new set of abs appearing from laughing so hard. Most of the hilarity was delivered at the hands of Girl while Guy was our angsty musician struggling to hit it big while finding his place in the world and looking for love. Obviously, the cast was very talented with a multitude of personalities.

Girl's roommates deserve mad props, too. If Girl wasn't making us laugh, the three of them were whether it was a guy who only learned to speak from watching soap operas, a girl who is obsessed with sex, or a young boy who simply wants to be promoted to manager, they will have the tears streaming down your face too. And then there's the ensemble...honestly one of the coolest things ever because they're the background track to the entire show while being on stage the entire time. The way production is carried out is beyond awesome.

One cool feature that is unique to ONCE is their wine and beer bar at the beginning of the show and intermission. Basically, what this means is that when they first let you in a half hour before the show starts and during intermission everyone bum rushes the stage in order to get some beer or wine in a cool ONCE souvenier plastic cup because they get to actually go on stage and also surround the ensemble as the perform Irish ditties live for the audience's enjoyment until the show officially starts. From one person who loves to be thoroughly entertained to another: keep an eye out for the elder man in the green vest. He is damn entertaining.

Overall verdict? Two thumbs up! If you like to laugh and can recognize talent when you see it, then this is a must whenever you get the chance. Though there are no true dance sequences, some movement sequences are absolutely beautiful. It got those 8 Tony's for a reason and it definitely deserved every single one of them.

All I've gotta say? I'm definitely hunting down this movie. I officially need it in my life now.

To learn more about ONCE, check out the musical's official website here or watch the movie!

Please note: this is a new feature dependent on audience feedback about whether you want me to continue it or not.


  1. Yay glad to see this come together so well! Love how you organized it and all! Fun hearing your journey to the tickets too! I've heard of this one but honestly, because I've not kept up with what's on Broadway these days, didn't know much about it! It sounds excellent!

    1. I'm happy it worked out! Thank you! It was so amazing Jamie, definitely worth seeing!

  2. Oh I love this feature and I'm so glad to hear great things about Once. I hope you continue it!

    I've been trying to decide if season tickets to our local theater would be worth it, and Once is one of the tours they're featuring, so this is very timely. I think you've helped make up my mind, thank you!

    1. I'm debating on it. It took forever to write this post, so it depends on audience feedback.

      I'm so happy that I could help out!

  3. Gah, I'm glad that you went to see this! It sounds amazing. I'm a huge fan of the film, so I've been curious to see how it plays out on stage. It's coming to the main theater in LA around my birthday and I've been trying to decide if I should go see it, or Ghost?! It's most likely going to come down to which one if cheaper, so the largest group of us can go. But I'm so glad that this one is so good. Also the wine and beer bar sounds legit! I'm already a fan of this feature!

    1. I desperately want to see the movie after seeing the show!

      I say ONCE! It's so worth it and something tells me you'll really like the on stage beer/wine bar with all of your friends ;) Then again I've never seen GHOST so I am biased.