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    Review: Once, The Musical

    Join us and The Fulton Theatre for a quick trip to Ireland and become part of a story that captures the love in our hearts.


    We’ve said it before and we’ll say it a million times over, The Fulton Theatre does “epic” and “razzle dazzle” exceptionally well. Their current show, Once: The Musical, left us in a different sort of amazement. The display of heart, romance, and soul in Once: The Musical is truly one of a kind.


    Based on the 2007 film, Once: The Musical features the Academy Award-winning song “Falling Slowly” and so many more beautiful ballads that pull on the heartstrings. Beginning in the lobby of the theatre, the actors, who also double as the orchestra, greet audiences with a warm Irish welcome by kicking off the night with a pre-show jam session. The feeling of togetherness and spirit the pre-show jam brings immediately makes you feel like you’ve hopped on a plane and landed right in the heart of Dublin.

    L to R Jon Patrick Penick, Andrew Nielson, Ken Allen Neely, Katherine Fried Photo by Kinectiv

    Migrating from the lobby to the stage, the actors and actresses lead audiences to their seats as they play their instruments and sing old Irish songs down the aisles of the theatre. Not once did any of the actors and actresses break character through this pre-show jam. They interacted with the audience and made us feel right at home. As the upbeat pre-show jam seamlessly transitions to the start of the show, you are immediately introduced to one of the many heart-filled ballads, and the world of the play unfolds right before your eyes.


    Taking place in a small music shop that transforms into a bedroom, studio, and more, this show’s set is intimate and homey. Exactly what you’d expect from a show set in Ireland.


    The show officially opens with Guy played by Ken Allen Neely singing “Leave,” a powerful song of heartbreak, as Girl played by Katherine Fried walks in and witnesses Guy packing up his guitar and giving up on music.

    L to R Andrew Nielson, Katherine Fried, Ken Allen Neely, Lennon Hu Photo by Kinectiv

    Ken plays the role of Guy and naturally, it seems like he was born to play the part. You can hear the heartbreak in his powerful voice but can also see the hope in his eyes when Girl, a complete stranger, takes time to help him. Throughout the show, you see him open up and find purpose and love again.


    Fried’s performance of Girl also deserves a standing-O. We all need someone like Girl in our lives. Someone who is caring, honest, hopeful, and the right amount of pushy with a dash of humor. Fried’s portrayal of this character was so beautifully done, that you fall in love with her hopeful spirit, but your heart also breaks when you hear the pain in her sultry voice.


    Backed by an amazing cast, throughout the show you hear voices as enchanting as sirens and as powerful as a pub of signing Irish men. Characters like Svec, played by Trevor Lindley Craft, and Billy, played by Jon Patrick Penick provide comic relief, while characters like Baruska, played by Kelly Kennedy and Da, played by Christopher Seller, provide a sense of family and support.

    L to R Hilary Alexa Caldwell, Kelly Kennedy Photo by Kinectiv

    L to R Katherine Fried, Alice Dillon, Trevor Lindley Craft, Ken Allen Neely Photo by Kinectiv

    The actors have such a natural chemistry—and we’re not just talking about Guy and Girl. The entire cast works so well with one another that you feel how much each character cares for one another. They really make you feel like you’ve known them your whole life and you’ll find that you’re able to relate to each character at some point in the show.


    From the lyrics to the instrumentals, the music is absolutely entrancing. Each song is full of heart and soul. Doubling as the orchestra, actors play their instruments on stage so effortlessly, as if they’re just an extension of them. The choreography is so simple yet demands attention, which is also a pretty accurate description of the show itself.


    There’s a line in the show that says “to live you have to love” and Once: The Musical does an incredible job of bringing back some love and romance in our lives, and teaches us a lesson in humanity. It makes you think and feel. It reminds us how impactful caring for a stranger, and for one another, can be.

    The Cast of Once Photo by Kinectiv

    You do not want to miss out on this incredibly unique show! Learn more about the show at and get your tickets at

    This show was directed and choreographed by Nathaniel Shaw. For a full list of talented directors, producers, cast, designers, and more, head over to The Fulton’s cast page for Once: The Musical.