Xavier’s Once transports audiences

Staff writer attends Once-in-a-lifetime performance of Xavier spring musical

By Grady Boris, Staff Writer

From March 25-27, Xavier Theatre put on their rendition of Once, a musical originally written by Enda Walsh that sold out the entire weekend with a magnificent show. 

Once is an interesting mashup of Irish and Czech cultures. It feels much different than most musicals, the most obvious reason being its set design. Rather than taking place in a traditional manner, the play and the audience were placed on stage, creating a much more intimate environment between cast and audience. 

The set was beautifully designed, and the wood floor and stained glass along with the costume design made it feel like the audience was transported to a relatively-modern Dublin.

Another big difference was the lack of a pit orchestra. All of the music came directly from the cast themselves, with instruments strewn about the stage at all times, ready to be played. 

It created a different dynamic than most musicals. The entire cast was ready to play several different instruments at the drop of a hat, making their performances all the more impressive.

The music was equally impressive. It was impossible not to smile at songs such as “North Strand,” which let Irish soul pour out as the audience and cast clapped to the beat, laughed and smiled. 

But Once wasn’t a one-trick pony; it made the audience feel myriad emotions. “Leave” was as heartbreaking as “North Strand” was cheery, getting the audience close to tears. Furthermore, opening the musical with “Leave” showed the cast’s capabilities.

I can’t continue without talking about the accents. Both Irish and Czech accents are not the easiest to get down for acting, let alone singing, for the entire run time of a musical. That being said, all of the cast did an impeccable job of maintaining consistent accents with only a few slips here and there.

The performances given by each and every cast member were stellar, especially the leads of Matthew Callas, who played Guy, and Kennedy Florence, who played Girl. They played off each other wonderfully, and their chemistry made the musical all the more enjoyable.

The comedic relief was also a breath of fresh air and much needed at times, mostly coming from Joe Mitchell (Bank Manager) and Andrew Leonard (Billy). The humor was almost always well-timed and a welcome change of pace. A mix of their body language, accents and timing gave the show a flavor it absolutely needed.

While I felt the need to highlight these particular cast members, there was not a single one that didn’t shine. The smaller cast worked to the performance’s advantage along with the physically smaller stage, contributing to the aforementioned intimate setting. 

The only downfall of the show was its abrupt end, causing the story to feel unfinished. The story built up as if it was going to culminate into something much more than what the ending actually was, which felt unsatisfying. 

Other than that, the musical was a massive success. Thinking back on it now, I would go and watch it again in an instant if the opportunity arose, and I’m not typically one for musicals.