cast top

Pictures: David Wilson Clarke     

Once - a new musical

The Hub, St. Mary's, Lichfield


As if Covid wasn’t bad enough for theatres across the country, the news about fuel bills deals a further blow to potential ticket sales as people tighten belts and are forced to re consider ‘luxuries’ like trips to the theatre.

Who would be a Theatre Producer in times like these ? Step forward, Lichfield based, Chris Buckle.

Buckle, founder of Let Me In Productions, is on a mission to create thought provoking, stylish work and already has an impressive back catalogue. He could go for the obvious and choose classic titles that are tried and tested.

Instead, and to his credit, he chooses arguably lesser known projects that sit well in the location and offer a new audience experience. It’s a risk, but if you don’t take them, you’ll never know and so far it seems to be working even in this challenging time for the industry.

Once, based on John Carney’s 2007 movie of the same name, is an ostensibly simple tale of boy meeting girl and a shared love of music and its effect. Its Dublin setting is perfect for a story that has music and people at its heart.

The pulse and energy created in the music shop setting is pretty much a microcosm of the city itself and that more than anything comes across in this tightly constructed, busy, and at times hypnotic version.

Whilst it’s very much an ensemble piece featuring an array of impressive actor/musicians, its two main protagonists Guy (Phil King) and Girl (Lucia Carmignani) drive the story and deliver exquisite tenderness and chemistry as their relationship deepens.

cast mid

 King’s voice has huge power and combines warmth and rock star attack in equal measure. Carmignani matches him beautifully and with sensitivity, especially on the show’s signature number, Falling Slowly.

Elliot Beech provides high energy comedy as Billy and Fionn Gardner is the straight guy amongst the quirky creatives as The Bank Manager.

Strong performances too from a talented ensemble cast of Actor/Musicians who work tirelessly throughout, providing the musical heartbeat of the show. At times, the sound created was hairs on the back of the neck quality.

Thomas Breakwell’s lighting design creates real intimacy in the beautiful but cavernous surroundings of St. Mary’s, drawing the eye clearly into the main focus of the music shop, cleverly designed on different levels by Imogen Melhuish. Cabaret style seating also reduces formality and lets the audience feel they are in the room.

Chis Buckle also directs with movement direction by Hattie Allen and Sound by Martin Pritchard.

Immersive, joyful and very beautiful theatre.  

Once runs until Saturday, 17 September at the stunning Hub at St. Marys, Lichfield. Tickets are still available for some performances and deserve to be snapped up.

Tom Roberts


Index page The Hub Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre