ONCE The Musical – Reviews Round-up

A round-up of reviews of ONCE The Musical at the Phoenix Theatre in London

Declan Bennett and Zrinka Cviteši in ONCE
Declan Bennett and Zrinka Cviteši in ONCE

This Tony Award-winning musical has now charmed the London theatre critics following its opening at the Phoenix Theatre in the West End.

This old-fashioned love story about an Irish busker who falls in love with a young Czech mother through their shared passion for music and song writing, stars Declan Bennett and Zrinka Cvitešić.

Once is written and directed by John Carney, who created the much-loved film on which the musical is based, with music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, and a book by celebrated Irish playwright Enda Walsh.

Read reviews below from the Guardian, Telegraph, FT and more.

Book tickets to ONCE The Musical at the Phoenix Theatre in London

Average rating score for this production


"Once is different from most other musicals: quiet, wistful, tender. It has a modesty that’s at odds with the West End’s customary excess. Arriving in London after Tony-winning triumph on Broadway, it’s here lent a stirring rawness by leads Declan Bennett and Zrinka Cvitešić."

"With minimal props and in what feels like a cross between a concert and drama, John Tiffany's charmingly funny and affecting production comes with shades of John Doyle (the director in whose Sondheim productions actors double as instrumentalists)."

"... it is hard to warm to the wet hero, so obtuse that he fails to recognise that the Czech girl loves him and offers a better chance of happiness than if he went back to his old girlfriend. But my frequent impatience with this show certainly didn’t seem to be shared by most of the audience, who rose as one to applaud Once."

"Enda Walsh, a playwright known for dark, twisted subject matter rather than emotive love stories, has adapted it for the stage by keeping faithful to the spirit of the original. He has subsequently created something that is far from the glossy pizzazz of traditional Broadway fare."

"[John] Tiffany’s direction, Steven Hoggett’s choreography and the tremendous cast create an uplifting world in which music becomes all important and joyously communal: a refuge and a tonic for life’s casualties."

"Once is also a feat of visual inclusiveness. Before the show, the audience is cajoled on to a stage thrumming with stamping and singing and violins, accordions and guitars.. But the core of the show is more feeble. The music is not interesting enough to swell the evening."

"Musicals these days tend to batter you into submission. This one, winner of eight Tony awards and based on a 2006 low-budget movie by John Carney that I have deliberately avoided seeing, wins you over with its simplicity, charm and air of sweet melancholy."

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1 thought on “ONCE The Musical – Reviews Round-up”

  1. I enjoyed the show kind of. Being Irish I could relate to it. But although the music was lively and the cast frenetic there were some issues I had with it. There were many Pinteresque pauses. Not sure if this was down to direction or acting. Guy was lacking in any real emotion and I found it hard to relate empathise with him and sounded a bit Ronan Keating at times. Girl was good in singing with good stage presence but interaction with Guy seemed odd and stilted at times. The second act was somewhat short I felt and the end rather rapid. Not a show for encores but it would have been nice to reprise something at the end .I am also getting tired of over adulation in the West End for “standing ovations! This is no “Merrily” or, “A little Night Music” or a “Sunday in the Park with George”
    But on balance an entertaining show enhanced by the Phoenix Theatre as an ideal venue for such a musical.

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