I was extremely excited to see Ronan's performance in Once, as I knew after seeing him in Goddess that he was an extremely emotional and believable actor, who if given the right role would only grow and develop as an actor; Ro obviously has the added talents of singing to be the star in a musical.
Ronan was endearing and charming in Once, as the shy Hoover engineer Guy, living an insular life with his father.
Guy has a gem of a talent, in that he has a golden voice and can play guitar, however he has become disillusioned and forlorn that he can't make it in the music world and believes he is not good enough because the object of his affections has left him, and he believes his songs were only meant for her.
It all changes when Guy is whiling away his time, melancholy and lost, playing songs to himself in an Irish drinking house, and he meets his new love interest girl played by Jill Winternitz, a sweet natured but also straight talking Czech girl, who gradually restores Guy's faith in himself and music, whilst captivating him under her spell and slowly mending his broken heart.
America beckons Guy once he has secured a loan from his bank manager to fund his project. He is catapulted into fame, however, Guy is also love sick for his first love and believes all things will be better if only they can be reunited, but he still can't get the Czech girl out of his mind and decides to go back to declare his undying love for her; only to be rejected as the girl has reconciled with her estranged husband to give it another try.
Guy is left alone and contemplating his future, he has achieved his fame but lost the love of his life, it is a sad twist in a musical play that that has you running the whole gamut of emotions from elation, solitude, anticipation, desperation, and enduring love.
My only criticism of this play is why was it not commissioned to play countrywide, it's a shame as I feel it would have really appealed to a wider audience, in its universal themes of love and life.
Something which is very worthy of a mention is the alluring set design, which recaptures the essence of an Irish Dublin drinking house, red and white tiled floors and an immense array of spirits and wines to lift the spirit. All respect to that, as it was as authentic and believable as you could get, and a nice touch before the show was that the audience was invited up to dance and have a tipple on the stage.
I had the honour of seeing this musical twice, although each time had differing elements to it. My first viewing involved me being in the gallery and even though I was quite a way from the stage, as it is a small and intimate theatre I didn't feel left out, as all too often can happen at bigger venues. Ronan's stage presence is very strong and engaging, and he had the ability to reach out emotionally to the audience however far back.
However on my second visit to Once I was lucky to get a front row seat, and oh what an exhilarating and captivating experience it was, the intensity of emotion from Ronan really blew me for six, it was breathtaking.
One particular moment was when Ro was sat directly opposite myself, and as actors are often told to focus on a particular person, I was honoured it happened to be me, Ro was passionately expressing himself on stage and I must say I was quite taken a back and had to break eye contact several times, as the intensity of it all was too much.
I am extremely honoured that I had the opportunity to see Ronan in the West End and hope I may be lucky enough to have that thrill again.
- Christine G