The Fulton may be taking a break from the big band glitz and glam of the traditional Broadway musical for its current production of Once, The Musical, but the show still shines and dazzles just the same.
While all musicals are music-forward (obviously), Once offers a much more contemporary and soulful feel than the other shows from this season at the Fulton. There’s no grand orchestra or band providing the soundtrack; the cast solely provides the show’s music with their guitars, strings, piano and drums. Each musician is phenomenal, and they juggle the required acting, dancing and playing with seamless grace.
It’s this “stripped down” approach that envelopes the audience in the heart and soul of the characters on stage. The will-they-or-they-won’t-they energy between the two main musicians (a lovelorn vacuum repair man/ talented songwriter and a bright-eyed piano playing single mom) is captivating, and you’re emotionally invested from the very first song. And while the story may be about the love and loss of vacuum repair man, it certainly doesn’t suck the life out of you. (Sorry, I had to!) It’s laced with good ol’ fashioned Irish (and European) wit and charm that keeps you laughing and dancing in your seat.
If you do make it out for a show, be sure to get there a little early for a pre-performance treat. The cast gathers in the lobby to sing a few songs before they hit the stage and get the energy going. It’s so fun and you feel connected to the cast before heading into the theater. I loved it and so did my mom, who is crazy about all things Irish thanks to her recent trip to Ireland.
I love traditional musicals, a la 42nd Street and Chicago, which graced Fulton’s stage earlier this season, but I loved the intimate and cozy feeling of Once too. The ability to transition so seamlessly between styles is a true testament to the talent, passion and depth of Fulton’s entire team and really solidifies it as one of the best theaters in Central PA.
Next up on the main stage is Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies followed by Mamma Mia! to close out the 2018/2019 season. I can’t wait to check out both shows!