*UPDATED 1/8/2015: Once has since closed on Broadway, but the show is currently touring. Visit their website to see the tour schedule and get tickets!*
My dad’s side of the family is Irish and my mom’s got Czech lineage. That’s not the only reason I went to see “Once” on Broadway. It was an odd, yet fitting, blend of two interests – genealogy and music!
On the train ride home from NYC yesterday I decided I’d write a blog post about the amazing matinée performance of “Once”. I’d give a thorough review with praise and compliments for everyone involved. While that’s still the plan, the method of transporting that message has changed. A separate blog post will follow with a more typical type of review. Instead of describing the who, what, when and where of “Once” this post seeks to pay tribute to what I believe the show’s message to be – love. For country, music and one another.
I woke this morning thinking about how proud I am to be Irish. How much I love this culture and all the richness it’s brought to my life. Granted, my third great-grandparents emigrated from Ireland to America in the mid 1860s but I still consider myself Irish.
There’s something so engrained in my spirit that connects me to that part of my ancestry. Perhaps it’s the mystical element. The Celtic traditions so steeped in grace, beauty and magic. But what I truly believe to be the strongest link is…ART. Music speaks to me in a way nothing else ever has. The melodies, the harmonies, the fulfillment of sweeping scales and gorgeous vocals. Irish music tells stories and as a storyteller myself I gravitate to that which does the same.
Nearly ten years ago I traveled with a tour group to the southern points of Ireland. From places such as Killarney, Kilkenny, Cork and Dublin. I climbed Blarney Castle and kissed the Blarney Stone.
I walked from my Dublin hotel, through the park and onto Grafton Street. I rode on a horse pulled carriage along the streets of Killarney into its National Park. My brief visit at the Muckross House ultimately being the catalyst for my YA fantasy novel.
In each town that we visited a few of us ventured out to the pubs each evening. I had some Guinness, enjoyed the company of new friends and listened with intrigue to each band that entertained us. The ambiance differed from the bar scene back home. At the Irish pub it was about chatting with one another, dancing and letting the music lead the evening.
And that brings me back to why “Once” moved me so. It took me back to that wonderful August week in 2004. To the incredible musicians who shared their love of music with the rest of us. Artists who used their passions and talents to unite us all in a shared experience. We came from different places, had different backgrounds and different needs but for a few hours we simply existed in the same time, same place and same moment.
Multi-talented artists grace the stage at the Jacobs Theatre 8 times a week. Each one of them not only singing but playing a musical instrument as well. Including an instrument that looked like a cross between a mini piano and clarinet. Anyway, from the moment you enter the theatre music invites you in; welcomes you into the environment and a shared musical experience. Even so much as allowing audience members on-stage to get a beer and watch the musicians perform. I stood at my seat and watched with an artist’s pride at what was unfolding before my eyes. Music linking us all together. Respect for the art form and all that’s it’s capable of achieving.
Throughout the next two hours I beamed with pride; knowing that this was a moment I’d remember for a lifetime. This brilliant theatrical piece may differ from the traditional Broadway musical but it achieves the same goal in a different fashion – sharing passion for art with those who need to hear it.
Now, back to researching the Czech side of my family!
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