Reporter: Joanna Trainor[nggallery id=11]
After receiving six Olivier Award nominations last week, Once the musical has just undergone a cast change. A perfect time to invite various press and journalists to watch them perform four songs and take part in a quick Q&A at their home the Phoenix Theatre.
The most notable change is that the rôle of Guy, will be played by Arthur Darvill for a limited eight week run. Finishing his stint in the Broadway production at the end of last year, Darvill says that playing in the West End is like “coming home”. Even from our 45 minutes at Once’s Secret Gig yesterday, Darvill seems to be fitting in perfectly. Mic’d for the entire time, you could hear him getting ready for each song in the wings, joking with the other actors, and at one point playing the Formula One theme tune, from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’.
Darvill is best known for playing Rory in Doctor Who, and when asked whether there was any chance of a Who musical episode, he told us that there had “been talks about it happening’. Sadly, however with Buffy the Vampire Slayer having had such a successful singing episode, they’d probably monopolised it for the whole genre. It’s difficult to feel too disappointed when you’re sat in the theatre listening to him,and the cast performing ‘Falling Slowly,’ it is even more difficult to resist singing along with them to such a beautiful song.
Staying on as ‘Girl,’ Zrinka Cvitešićadmits she’s struggled letting Declan Bennett and other members “go from her heart”, Darvill adding that he now feels like “the other man”. But clearly she has now learned to accept the new arrivals, giving Tim Prottey-Jones a big kiss on the cheek. Obviously the biggest news for Cvitešićis her Olivier nomination for Best Actress in a Musical, though when she is asked about her chances of winning, Cvitešićmodestly says that “it is a miracle just to be nominated with those other actresses.” But with her dulcet tones, talent and instantly likeable quality, she is definitely going to be stiff competition!
A trend for musical theatre at the moment is the use of Actor Musicians on stage, and from accordions to cellos, seeing actors utilised to their full potential created a whole new theatrical atmosphere for our short preview. Having to brush up on their musical skills was easier for some, however, Matthew Ganley tells us he learnt the ukulele for this rôle as Svec, but it later transpired his instruments for the show were the mandolin and banjo.
Playing for over a year now, someone asks how they keep it fresh. Cvitešićpoints out that the new cast helps, but Jez Unwin says that “every night feels different”, and our secret gig certainly was a unique experience; a little bit of Irish charm, just for us!
Watch the cast singing the Oscar-winning ‘Falling Slowly’ from the show below.
Once the musical is now booking until July 2015 and tickets are available from the show’s website.