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    This month, Broadway Across America is bringing the Tony Award-winning musical Once to Louisville. Based on the Academy Award-winning movie of the same name, Once is a hit with audiences everywhere.

    I had the opportunity to speak with Dani de Waal this weekend about her role as “Girl” in Once. Ms. de Waal has been with the tour since it’s launch and has been acting since childhood. She trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Her first professional job was playing Sophie in a London Production of Mamma Mia!. This production of Once is de Waal’s first American tour.

    Once tells the tale of a Dublin street musician about to give up on his music until he crosses paths with a Czech immigrant who encourages him to continue on his journey. According to Ms. de Waal, “He plays what he thinks is his last song on the street, throws his guitar down, and is actually prepared to kind of walk away from even his guitar. The Czech immigrant, who I play, has just seen him, seen him play his song, and is really inspired by what she’s seen. She takes it upon herself to not let him give up on his music and help him get through whatever’s blocking him creatively and also in life.”

    If you’ve seen the movie, the play differs only slightly, according to de Waal. “What was so special about the movie was that it had such a raw, unpolished quality to it. It’s very simple really. It’s focuses just on these two people. I think they wanted to keep that essence and not make it a big flashy Broadway musical with lots of costume and lights and sets… Broadway musicals maybe have a tendency to put out a lot of visual things to see… There’s lots of moments where not much is happening and it’s kind of what’s not being said in the pauses and the silences… I think that’s quite different from other shows, particularly musicals going before it.”

    One of the biggest differences between Once and other musicals is the music itself. An orchestra doesn’t play the numbers; instead, the actors themselves perform the songs. Ms. de Waal’s character plays the piano. She has been playing since childhood, but not professionally until this production. de Waal states that playing the instruments onstage enhances the music and makes it a focal point. Her favorite song to perform night after night changes; right now, it’s the Oscar-winning “Falling Slowly.” “It really is a very special song,” she describes, “and it comes at a point in the show where everything kind of comes together.”

    Ms. de Waal also revealed that it’s very important to arrive early. The set functions as a working bar where patrons are encouraged to get a drink about twenty minutes before curtain. After that, the actors come onstage to play Czech and Irish folk songs. “It gets people in the spirit - transports them to Dublin. It gets the audience involved with the story,” de Waal explains.

    You can see Once, starring Dani de Waal and Stuart Ward, at the Kentucky Center from January 20th-25th with tickets starting at just $28. Click here to visit the Kentucky Center’s website for more details (including show times) or to purchase tickets. Click here to learn more about Broadway Across America.

    If you’re looking for somewhere to eat before the show, BBC has brewed a special beer, inspired by Once, called Guy’s Irish Red. Being just a few blocks away from the Kentucky Center makes BBC the perfect place to dine! For more information about BBC, click here.  



    Photos provided by Broadway Across America.

    Jenna Foster's picture

    About Jenna Foster

    Hi! My name is Jenna. I am a music teacher at a primary school. I love teaching because you get to feel like a rockstar without all the fuss of being famous. My hobbies include cosplay, reading, music, traveling, and collecting vintage clothes and records.

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