Romantic Musical ‘Once’ Brings Irish Fun to Austin’s ZACH Theatre

by Britni Rachal on October 1, 2018 in Entertainment, Theatre, Living Texas, Austin,

Upbeat tempos and sounds of fiddles are transforming ZACH’s Topfer Theatre this fall.

The enchanting modern love story ‘Once’ is showing at ZACH until October 28. Based on a 2007 Academy Award-winning film, the musical shows the complexities of relationships, the power of music, and how it connects us all.

(L to R) Ginna Doyle, Christabel Linn and Anya Gibian with the cast of Once at ZACH Theatre. Photo Kirk Tuck

Since the play is based in Ireland, ZACH offers live Irish music before each show. There is also some Irish music leading into the show, but then the focus turns toward the two main characters as the serious, yet sometimes humorous storyline begins to unfold.

The story of an Irish musician and Czech immigrant who are drawn together by their shared love of music (and a broken Hoover vacuum cleaner), is the focus of ‘Once.’ The duo’s unexpected friendship and collaboration evolves into a powerful yet complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together.

Olivia Nice and Corbin Mayer in Once at ZACH Theatre. Photo Kirk Tuck

Simplicity with elegance is the best way I would describe this ZACH production. The actors do an outstanding job, creating an immersive experience from start to finish. Moments of laughter are frequent throughout the production, but the play is also very serious and at times, in my opinion, a little dark. But overall, there is a sense of comedic energy the talented cast bring to the show.

With music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, and book by Enda Walsh, talented musicians almost serve as a prop as they play their own instruments on the stage. Other props consist of maps and photos at the top of the stage, which remind the audience that the play is in Ireland.

Ben Hulan and Ginna Doyle in Once at ZACH Theatre. Photo Kirk Tuck

‘Once’ is also winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Definitely a must-see at ZACH, this unique theatrical experience, with breathtaking melodies by Glen Hansard, of the Irish band The Frames, provides excellent entertainment, coupled with artistic and passionate acting.

A conversation-starter, I will say the ending of the play is open to interpretation. Something you truly have to see for yourself, ‘Once’ is probably better for a fun night out with friends or a date night. The night that I attended, the entire audience was made up of adults. (According to ZACH, the play is recommended for ages 10 and up because of language.)


‘Once’ runs September 19 – October 28 at ZACH’s Topfer Theatre. Tickets start at $30 and are available online.


Cover: The cast of Once at ZACH Theatre. Photo Kirk Tuck