Once the Musical is a great Broadway show, and after recently watching again I think I figured out why I like it so much. Once was a Tony winner for best new musical when it came out a couple years ago. It is based on the movie of the same name and the story is of a boy and a girl and finding inspiration to express their love.
I personally like the musical version a lot more than the movie. The difference between the movie and the musical is the musical has more songs, specifically up beat ones to break up the sad songs, which in my opinion really helps. What also helps is the way the musical is staged. It predominately takes place in what feels like an irish pub complete with a working bar that audience members can order from before the show and at intermission. To add to that pub feel, the cast "warms up" on stage with songs and dance while audience members are on stage at the bar. So you can say you were on a Broadway stage with the actors performing close up!
The cast is fiercely talented. The understudy for the lead female role (Jessie Fisher) took the stage in the production I recently saw and she was great. The lead male played by Paul Nolan has a strong and earnest rock voice, perfect for the role. I last saw Mr. Nolan as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar and this is another great role for someone of his talents. I also love the fact that all instruments are played by the actors on stage, so there is no additional orchestra in the pit or in the wings. Instruments are limited to acoustic guitar, bass, cello, mandolin, violin and some percussion, perfect for the kind of music being played and for an authentic feel and atmosphere.
Getting back to the reason why I like this show so much is because it doesn't feel like a Broadway show. Maybe it's due to the pub setting or the actors as musicians. Either way to me it feels like I am at a concert of this great band and there happens to be a story line for the concert, like a concept album of some really great songs brought to life. I guess maybe that is what concepts albums are, but either way this is a show I still recommend without hesitation for anyone looking for a great night of entertainment.