Theater Review: Once Live at the Hollywood Pantages

Garon CockrellTheatre, Theatre ReviewLeave a Comment

Hollywood Pantages
July 15 – August 10

imagesNow open at the legendary Hollywood Pantages is the 8 time Tony Award winning musical Once, featuring a stellar cast of musicians, singers, and dancers.

The official synopsis is as follows:

Once tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music.
 Over the course of one fateful week, their unexpected friendship and collaboration evolves into a powerful but complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together. Brought to the stage by an award-winning team of visionary artists and featuring an ensemble cast of gifted actor/musicians, Once is a musical celebration of life and love: thrilling in its originality, daring in its honesty… and unforgettable in every way.

And it truly is an unforgettable show, in pretty much every way.


The show actually starts before the real show even begins as part of the cast plays and sings numerous tunes while the audience members are able to get on stage and purchase drinks. It’s a wonderful display of the cast’s talent and a really unique way to transition into the show which happens rather seamlessly.

The show is simple and everything takes place on one set with only minor props to indicate what location you are actually in. This keeps the focus on the cast and the music which is most important here, the set doesn’t distract at all.

The cast here, led by Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal, are phenomenal. They are really incredible between the performances, the musicianship, even dancing. It seems like every one on that stage is a force.


The show is mesmerizing from beginning to end and it is near impossible not to fall in love with this story and this beautiful music. If you are familiar with the film, you won’t find many surprises to be had. What you will appreciate though is how true to the soul of the story the musical is and how pure it remains even in this format. It really deserves to be seen and experienced in person.

The music shines with the cast giving just impeccable performances. They’re wonderful. If you liked the songs in the film, you are going to love them here. They just come alive. I gave a listen to the broadway recording with the original cast and I have to say, I prefer this cast. They sound so much stronger and more connected with the music.

I can’t find anything to pick at. I really loved every moment. If i had to complain, it’s that I can’t buy a CD of this cast performing the show. I really loved it from start to finish.

Top notch direction, a beautifully simple set design, and a flawless, inspiring cast make Once an absolute must see show. The music, the performances, it’s just a spectacular evening of theater.

You have until August 10 to visit the beautiful Hollywood Pantages and catch this wonderful show. Take your friends, take your family. You won’t regret it.

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Garon CockrellTheater Review: Once Live at the Hollywood Pantages