ONCE; A New Musical

Happy hump day! I hope everyone is feeling alive and well in the aftermath of St. Patrick’s day. When I was in university St. Paddy’s was a big deal. Anyone and everyone busted out their green and went overboard on green beer. It was fun while it lasted but out in the real world that type of behavior is totally inappropriate for a weekday, weekends are still fair game though.

This year, instead of celebrating the luck o’ the Irish with booze, Lucas and I decided to celebrate with Irish music by seeing the musical production ONCE, at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. In addition to being a fun St.Pat’s date night activity, tickets to the show were one of my birthday gifts for Lucas.

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SPOILER ALERT: The remainder of this post may contain spoilers. Similar to how granola bars may contain peanuts. Basically I can’t make any promises…

Before the show Lucas and I decided to go for a nice dinner, because #datenight. We selected a restaurant called Baton Rouge. IMG_6045Lucas got a super delicious looking burger and fries. It had onion rings on it! Mmmmmm! And I got a grilled veggie sandwich and a green salad (eating out isn’t as fun when your not allowed to eat deep fried foods but it was still very delicious).

Then we went to the show! The Ed Mirvish Theatre is one of my favourite places to see theatre. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house (as long as you’ve got your glasses) and the architecture and design is just stunning! High arched ceilings, elegant stair cases, ruby red carpets and curtains! I’ve now seen 6 shows there!

Just for some context, here is the show description from the Mirvish website:

Set in modern day Dublin, ONCE is the story of a Guy who gave up on his music—and his love—and the Girl who inspired him to dream again. This irresistibly breathtaking production is performed by an extraordinary all-Canadian cast of actor-musicians who sing, dance and play their hearts out live on stage. Directed and choreographed by the brilliant team of Tony Award winner John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett, ONCE will dazzle you with its originality, wit and unforgettable music.

IMG_6041The stage was set to look like an Irish pub and during pre-show and intermission audience members were allowed to get beer and water from the working bar on stage! How neat is that?! While people lined up for drinks the performers danced around singing popular irish folk tunes. Talk about audience interaction! It perfectly set the mood for the show!

The music was excellent. Absolutely beautiful! Unlike traditional musicals the instruments were played by the singers/actors on stage. There were 2 violins, a cello,  multiple guitars, percussion, and a piano. All these instruments were onstage the entire time and always played by the cast. In many productions this would have been unsuccessful but it worked really well in the Irish pub atmosphere and it showcased the talent of this cast excellently.

Speaking of the cast, it is entirely Canadian! This is a big deal for me because I am extremely passionate about the growth of Canadian arts and culture. I strongly believe that the best way to grow our artistic scene to a larger scale is by having Canadian artists shine on Canadian stages. Because if Canada doesn’t showcase our talent why would anyone else. Annnnyway, the leads of ONCE were Ian Lake and Trish Lindström (Photographed below). They both did an excellent job of portraying their characters. A heart broken Irish man and a spunky, single mom from the Czech Republic.

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Photo from http://www.mirvish.com

 The downfall of this musical for me was the plot. ONCE is advertised as the love story to end all love stories and that is how it began. It had me getting all emotional and sappy. And then… the end happened. And while it was still beautiful it wasn’t at all what I expected. In fact it didn’t really feel like the ending at all. I was left with questions and confusion and a need for more. But I suppose that makes this musical more realistic than most. Instead of providing a clean cut happily ever after it provides an unsatisfying ending which is lacking closure, which is an accurate description to how most real life relationships are. That being said, it was beautiful, exceptionally beautiful. Even if it didn’t give me the cookie cutter ending I was craving.

For the record, Lucas also really enjoyed the show. He didn’t focus so much on the plot but rather the music. He said it felt more like a folk concert than a musical and he loved that. I wouldn’t be surprised if I come home to find the soundtrack on my iTunes.

All in all it was a fantastic way to access my inner Irish on St. Patrick’s day and it was a super fun, out of the ordinary date night. My final review: 4 Stars out of 5. If you are in the Toronto Area and you enjoy good music, I suggest going to see ONCE!

ONCE is on stage at the Ed Mirvish Theatre until May 31st.

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Photo from http://www.mirvish.com

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The Book of Mormon

Wow. So blogging is a lot more work than I thought. The following post has been a week in the making, not because it is the best post you will ever read, but because every time I sat down to write I got distracted by something else. I’m a busy person, what can I say.

Anyway, on to the content that took a full week to compile…

The Book of Mormon. Full Cast.
The Book of Mormon. Full Cast.

Sometimes I think it is incredibly fun and healthy to take time to be a tourist in your own city. I happen to live in a rather large Canadian metropolis so there is a lot to see and do. Personally I am super passionate about theatre and music, and it is nearly impossible to see everything that Toronto has to offer but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Last Wednesday (November 19th) my friend Lindsay and I had a girls night out, we went to see a musical called The Book of Mormon. But before I get into my review of the show (I have so many opinions) let me tell you about our fantastic dinner! We went to this chic little restaurant called HUSH.

I apologize for the poor quality of all the photos in this post. The restaurant had major mood lighting going on, great for atmosphere but not so great for photos.

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Wine. Lindsay had a White Moscato and I had a Red Malbec.

 For dinner. Lindsay had fish & chips. The fish was massive! We probably could have shared her meal and still had leftovers. But we did not share, we greedily each got our own plate of deliciousness. I had Lobster grilled cheese. Yes you heard me correctly. Lobster Grilled CheeseIt was luxurious and incredibly unhealthy. I loved every second of it. I promise I don’t always eat badly, but when I do… I go all out.

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Lindsay’s Fish & Chips
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My Lobster Grilled Cheese & Fries.

After our meal we wandered across the street to the theatre. I love going to the theatre. There is something about the lights and the curtains that just makes everything seem so magical. Before heading inside we attempted to have a photo shoot with the show posters outside but once again the lighting was working against us. Also, taking pictures with hats, scarfs, mittens, winter coats and backpacks is not easy. #winterincanada

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Lindsay with the Book of Mormon Poster
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We ❤ Mormon
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Me with the Book of Mormon Poster

For those of you who don’t know, The Book of Mormon is a hit Broadway musical created by the same guys who created South Park. That should give you a sense of the kind of humour in this show. Vulgar, yet hilarious.

Let me summarize the plot for you real quick: Two young mormon boys men travel to Africa to spread the word of God and bring people into the Mormon faith. Hilarity ensues. Basically it is a lot of making fun of religion, playing up stereotypes and swearing. So. Much. Swearing.

The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon

I knew this going into it so I wasn’t shocked or offended but I think the woman sitting next to me was. She left at intermission and never came back. While I thought it was a funny show, I can totally see why someone would be offended by it. I think in order to appreciate this show you have to be aware that the humor is vulgar and base. They are using all means to get a laugh and if you are okay with that it can be a really fun show. I also think its important to recognize that this show isn’t just making fun of the Book of Mormon, it is also making fun of musicals and the musical theatre art form. So it had a lot of cheesy moments and standard characters and the music wasn’t anything special. But again, it is all a part of the humor and because I knew that going in I was prepared. Other hit Broadway musicals like Wicked or Billy Elliot, for example, exist to showcase music and dance respectively, so they shine in those areas. The Book of Mormon exists to be funny and as long as you aren’t easily offended that is, I think, where it shines.

Small thing take away: I really enjoyed the production and I had a really fun night being a Toronto tourist with Lindsay.

If you are near Toronto and want a good laugh The Book of Mormon is playing at the Princess of Whales Theatre until November 30th.

Have you seen the Book of Mormon? What were your thoughts?