The last production of Theater 166 is described as “hauntingly beautiful” and a “one-of-a-kind theatrical experience”.
Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, “Once” features an ensemble cast of actors/musicians playing their own instruments on stage. It is the story of a Dublin street musician, Guy, who is about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman, Girl, suddenly takes an interest in his haunting love songs.
Emotionally captivating and theatrically stunning, “Once” draws you in from the first note and never lets go. It’s a story about making your dreams come true, not living in fear, and the power of music to connect us all.
Director Michael Thomas has been a fan of the show since seeing it on Broadway 10 years ago.
“One of the biggest differences between ‘Once’ and any other musical on the Broadway stage is that its cast is asked to not only sing, act and move, but also play a musical instrument. “, did he declare. “And not just noodles on it, but play it nice.”
The cast of 12 actor/musicians includes people from across the country, including Chicago, Nashville and New York.
A Chicago resident plays one of the main roles
Daniella Rukin, who plays Girl, lives in Chicago. She heard about the Mansfield show online.
“I’ve always loved the piece ‘Once’,” Rukin said.
The Chicago resident plays the piano, just like her character.
“It’s a part I’ve always wanted to do,” Rukin said. “I love all musicals where you play your own instrument on stage.
“I love that (‘Once’) is a very natural musical. Every actor plays an instrument in it.”
Rukin said she would play Girl with an Accent. She noted that there is no definitive Czech accent, but she did extensive research to see how people speak in different parts of the country.
She described her character.
“I play a woman who moved to Dublin from her home in the Czech Republic,” Rukin said. “Things didn’t work out for her the way she planned, so she feels pretty lost.”
At least until she meets Guy while he’s playing in the street.
“I just go up to him and start talking to him, and we end up in a sort of relationship,” Rukin said. “They end up enriching each other.”
She said the relationship only lasts a few days but gave no details.
“You’ll have to come see the show,” Rukin said.
She added that the music was “beautiful”.
“It’s not your typical Broadway show. It’s not your belts,” Rukin said. “It’s much more folkloric.”
She says she really enjoyed her time in Mansfield, calling it the opposite of Chicago as a small town.
Rukin fell in love with the city center and “I love being able to park anywhere without having to worry about getting a ticket”.
She also clicked with the cast.
“Musicians just have this way of finding each other and bonding,” Rukin said.
Lexington graduate portrays Guy
Noah Sgambellone stars as Guy.
“He just got heartbroken,” Sgambellone said. “He’s giving up everything.”
Everything changes when he meets Girl.
“She shares the same love of music. She kind of rekindles his love for it,” Sgambellone said.
The 2019 Lexington graduate has been busy lately. He had a starring role in the recent Renaissance Theater production of “Spring Awakening.”
“The difference between the two shows is like day and night,” Sgambellone said. “Moving from death and misery to hope and love is interesting. It’s a fun transition.”
He also makes the transition from the vast Renaissance theater to the intimate theater 166, which he appreciates.
“People who come to see him are going to feel more involved in what’s going on with the actors,” Sgambellone said. “It’s almost like a movie.”
He plays acoustic guitar in “Once”.
Thomas thanked Larry Miller and his team at Metronome Music for their help in this department.
“They were so generous in lending us instruments and giving us advice,” the director said. “It is impossible to calculate the impact Metronome has had on musicians in the region over the past 60 years.”
If you are going to
Or: 166 Theater, 166 Park Avenue West
When: 8 p.m. on April 22, 23, 29 and 30; 2:30 p.m. on April 24 and May 1.
Tickets: $29. Due to limited seating at Theater 166, patrons are encouraged to reserve their seats early.
More information: Visit rentickets.org or call 419-522-2726.