Once' Again: An Indie Film Hit Becomes a Musical
An Oscar-winning Irish movie hit evolves into a new Broadway production
By Alan Light
Special to MSN Music
"When you write a song it's forever," said Glen Hansard. "It's like a piece of furniture: When you build it right, it will outlast you. And that's really what this whole thing has been for me."
Few songs (and not even that many pieces of furniture) have had the afterlife of the music Hansard and Markéta Irglová wrote for the 2007 film "Once." The movie, set in Dublin, was made for less than $200,000 and went on to a global box office take of over $20 million. Along the way, the unlikely stars and songwriters won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Falling Slowly."
The duo, who first collaborated on songs for an earlier film, "Beauty in Trouble," by Czech director Jan Hrebejk, introduced "Falling Slowly" and several other songs that would appear in "Once" on "The Swell Season," an album that found Hansard, then best- known as frontman for Irish rock band the Frames, joined by Irglová. The album's gentle but impassioned acoustic settings would provide the template for the film's intimate performances.
Since then, Hansard and Irglová went on to tour the world under the name the Swell Season, which also spawned a documentary. Last year, a musical theater version of "Once" opened Off-Broadway, but before the show even began, it was announced that it would be moving to Broadway; the uptown production which includes all of the songs from the film, as well as a new song, "Abandoned in Bandon," and the Czech folk song "Ej Pada Pada Rosicka" - opens on March 18, and the cast recording is being released on March 13.
The theatrical version doesn't alter the simple story of the film, which follows the relationship between an Irish busker (known simply as "Guy") and a Czech-born pianist ("Girl") over the course of a week as they make music and fall in love. It took some innovative and...