Once again, the Paramount Theatre creates superlative entertainment with its latest production, "Once," the Tony Award winner for best musical, running through June 3.
For those not familiar with the story, "Once," a modern-day show set on the streets of Dublin, tells the story of a street musician and a Czech immigrant during an eventful week as they write, rehearse and record songs that reveal their unique love story.
"Once" is based on the Oscar-winning 2007 movie, which took home the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Falling Slowly.” The movie stars real-life musicians Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.
The Paramount Theatre sets the atmosphere before the curtain even rises. Patrons can stroll on stage to purchase beverages at an Irish bar, and a jam session among the musicians before the play helps get the audience in the mood. All the instruments are played on stage by the actor-musicians throughout the show.
Sparks start flying early between Barry DeBois, who plays the character Guy, and Tiffany Topol, who plays Girl. DeBois and Topol shine in their roles and clearly understand the emotional baggage that both Guy and Girl are carrying.
They also earn high marks for the emotions they pour into the songs, written by Hansard and Irglova.
The production is blessed by a spectacular cast of actors and musicians, including Jon Patrick Penick, who offers a hilarious take as Billy, a piano store owner. Kudos also go to director Jim Corti, who brings a sense of intimacy to the production, in turn allowing audience members to become part of the story as it unfolds on stage.
Eric Schelkopf writes about the arts and entertainment scene in Chicago at http://thetotalscene.blogspot.com. He also is an employee of Shaw Media.
If you go
WHAT: Musical "Once"
WHERE: Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora
WHEN: Wednesday through Sunday between now and June 3
COST & INFO: $36 to $64; rated PG-13; paramountaurora.com, 630-896-6666