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First Published 26 November 2014, Last Updated 10 December 2014

What’s it all about?

Two things.

The Olivier Award-winning production that combines the infectious rhythm of Irish céili, an incredibly talented cast of actor-musicians, an Academy Award-winning soundtrack and a heart-warming story  following a Dublin-born busker and hoover-fixer as he meets a young Czech mother with a faulty vacuum cleaner who reinvigorates his passion for music.

A certain member of Boyzone whose appearance in the musical will have besotted fans of the boy band scrambling for front row seats to get closer to the singer.

Who’s in it?         

For those who haven’t seen his face brandished across London Underground posters, noticed him lining the streets of Theatreland on lamppost banners or deciphered the hint above, it is of course Ronan Keating who has taken over as Guy. In the role he proves himself to be not only the big name but the star of the show. And that star shines. His Irish accent gives the performance authenticity, his singing voice is flawless and he masters the combination of raw passion, humour and sensitivity that makes the character so unforgettable.

Alongside newcomer Keating, Jill Winternitz continues to bring comic bluntness and quirky wit to the role of Girl and Tim Prottey-Jones is hilarious as overprotective music shop owner Billy.

Jez Unwin, the only original cast member still performing in the show, remains one of the most memorable performers with his deadpan delivery of compliments in the role of the Bank Manager.

Together with the rest of the cast they bring heaps of energy to the stage, beautifully executing Steven Hoggett’s innovative choreography and conjuring spine-tingling renditions of each emotion-filled track.

What should I look out for?

Opportunities to take to the stage, not to perform – put that cello down – but to enjoy a refreshing pint at the fully plumbed bar on Bob Crowley’s striking Olivier Award-winning set. The on-stage pub is open in the interval and before the show, and if you get to the Phoenix Theatre early you can sup your beverage to the sound of the cast warming up.

Who was in the press night crowd?

We spotted at least another two fifths of Boyzone – Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch – as well as Cherie Blair and Nicky Clarke.

In a nutshell?

Forget Falling Slowly, as Ronan Keating makes an astounding West End debut you’ll fall very quickly – if you haven’t already – for this witty and moving musical.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@HowleBilly @ronanofficial absolutely killing it! #oncethemusical amazing show. Love it. Go!!!!

Will I like it?

Don’t be fooled, this is not just for avid Boyzone and Ronan Keating fans. Once is for musical fans, non-musical fans, fans of the film, those who have never seen the film. Pretty much anyone with a heart. With its striking choreography, touching storyline and truly spine-tingling music, you’ll be wanting to see this more than once before it ends its West End run next year.

Once is playing at the Phoenix Theatre until 21 March. You can book tickets through us or, in just under two weeks’ time, through Get Into London Theatre. Tickets for performances from 1 January to 13 February go on sale in our annual promotion on 9 December.


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