Hit West End show Once The Musical – first reviewed by us last year – has undergone a major cast change in recent weeks, most notably with Arthur Darvill replacing original leading man Declan Bennett.
When we saw the show last year we awarded it a rare five stars, thanks in part to the great chemistry between Bennett and co-star Zrinka Cvitešić.
With the whole play resting on the relationship between their characters it’s great to see Cvitešić has been able to create an equally believable rapport with her new co-star.
While his Doctor Who connection means many will be flocking to see Darvill, for me it’s the captivating and funny Cvitešić who continues to be the real star of the show.
Having already played the role of ‘Guy’ in the Broadway production of Once, Darvill delivers a solid, assured performance and at times it’s hard to reconcile his strong stage presence with the weak drip he played in BBC One’s Sci-Fi drama.
On the downside his Irish accent occasionally feels a little forced and heavy and could better serve the love story by being softer and more seductive but, more positively, he’s a genuinely good singer as this recording from our recent behind the scenes visit demonstrates:
One of the inevitable things about seeing any play after cast changes is you’ll often find yourself hankering after the originals and while Darvill is a big enough persona to fill the gap left by Bennett, I felt some of the new supporting actors didn’t really fit the characters.
The same sentiment was expressed by the other reviewers I saw the show with, but this is largely going to be an issue for repeat audiences and those seeing the play for the first time are still going to enjoy great performances from the whole cast.
With memorable, highly enjoyable songs and two strong leads, Once remains a great night out and retains its five-star rating.
For ticket prices and booking details visit oncemusical.co.uk