Theatre Thursday :: my thoughts on Once

19 Jun

The thing about Once is that… gosh, I am really attached to the movie.  I forget sometimes about how attached I am to the movie when I haven’t seen it in a while but then I think about it or hear one of the songs and I remember and then I melt into a puddle.  I remember seeing the movie in high school with a bunch of my friends/coworkers and it was just this wonderful experience; I remember when I saw the Swell Season live in high school and it was one of the top times I’ve ever felt, for lack of a less cheesy phrasing, one with the world.  During “Falling Slowly,” obviously, when everyone was just so in the moment and it was beautiful.

I… didn’t get that from the musical.  Some of the musical numbers themselves were crazy and wonderful.  “Gold,” obviously, but that one was kind of canonically about that feeling of being in the moment and they portrayed that really well.  “If You Want Me” also got to me; it’s always been my favorite song off the album (she said, surprising no one) and while I wasn’t quite sure what the girls were intending with that strange interpretive dance thing they were doing I wasn’t opposed to it.

The musical numbers were not the problem.  The reworkings of the plot were.

One of my people was absolutely furious about the reworkings of the plot.  “They’re making it stupid,” he fumed at intermission, pulling a face.  “All the dumb jokes and the schtickiness.  It doesn’t have heart.”  And that’s… actually a decent assessment.  This was not the fault of the performers, this was just the book.

Because one of the nicest things about the movie is that it’s so small and sweet but not romantic even though it’s very romantic.  Nobody needed names (I think the daughter still had one, but) and nobody really needed a lot going out outside of the moment that was the story.  And the story was about two people finding each other, making music, and then going their ways.  And it was lovely.

The show… got turned into a doofy romantic tragicomedy.  They didn’t change the end, thank the gods, I was so desperately afraid that they were going to, but they made it way more romantic-attention-y than the movie.  In the movie, the above person pointed out, the guy takes no the first time he hears it and that’s that.  And then they’re friends and they make music.  And there might still be something there, but that’s not the point.  In the show, the guy… just keeps advancing.  “You can’t tell me you don’t feel it too” and “we’re starting something” and all that.  It’s a lesson in context: the conversation about “come to the States with me, bring your daughter,” “can I bring my mother?” is in the movie, but it’s a joke.  They’re kidding around with each other.  Mostly.  It’s not all… wrought with uncomfortable tension.  Mostly.  Also in the movie I love that it didn’t translate her response to “do you still love him.”  Because it doesn’t really matter.

And yeah, there were just so many unnecessary dumb jokes.  We didn’t need the music shop owner hitting on her and doing offensively bad karate and ranting about capitalism.  We didn’t need the tangents between him and the bank man (props, I guess, for the bank man being like “I’m gay,” but the whole conversation that was a part of was super unnecessary, and also not particularly well-handled contextually).  We didn’t need the tangents with her roommate hitting on the bank guy or… really any tangents with her roommates at all.

Also, the show really upped her Manic Pixie Dream Girl factor (one of my other people pointed this out and I applauded her).  There are stripes of that in the movie, but it’s much more complicated than all that.

I just wanted the music.  And when it was just the music, it delivered.  But overall, it did not.

–your fangirl heroine.

what the hell ever


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