Saturday 20 January 2018

Home sweet home for Megan's musical 'Once'

Megan Riordan
Megan Riordan
Tom Parsons as Guy and Megan Riordan as Girl - 'As an emigrant with a deep passion for Irish music and culture, the American actress “fell in love” with the musical Once the moment the script landed at her door' (Photo by Matt Crockett)
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

It's a special type of homecoming for Megan Riordan.

As an emigrant with a deep passion for Irish music and culture, the American actress "fell in love" with the musical Once the moment the script landed at her door.

Sitting in the Olympia Theatre, just three days before the highly anticipated opening night of the award-winning musical, she reveals her personal and professional connections with the story.

And she's not the only one feeling nostalgic.

After three years on Broadway in New York, two years in London's West End, eight Tony Awards and a Grammy, she says bringing Once back to Dublin - its city of origin - is a "dream job" for the entire cast.

"From day one of auditions back in January, we knew this was something special for so many reasons - the homecoming, the fact that it is produced by Landmark Productions and the calibre of work being done on and off stage," said Ms Riordan.

"There is something truly magical about it being here," she said.

Based on the movie of the same name, Once the musical was written by Enda Walsh and tells the story of a Dublin street musician who meets and falls in love with a new immigrant to the city.

It features music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová including the Oscar-winning 'Falling Slowly' and a cast of actor-musicians, who sing, dance and play their hearts out live on stage.

The play is set in a bar, referred to in a New York Times article as 'the kind of pub where people come to lose themselves in song as well as drink'.

Although Ms Riordan is making her debut as the lead female character who is named 'Girl', actors involved in prior Once productions in London and Melbourne have already noted distinctive differences between Irish and international audiences.

She said the leading male star, Tom Parsons, who plays 'Guy,' has been "blown away" by the response of the Dublin audience in the previews.

"There are jokes in it that would eventually have been gotten in context in other places around the world but here the audience are just with it immediately. Every line lands, every joke lands," said Ms Riordan who has also starred in the Irish productions of Romeo and Juliet and Othello.

On a more personal level, the reason the play resonates with the Las Vegas born beauty is the emigration element of the story.

"I am also an immigrant to Dublin like 'Girl' is. I came here and absolutely fell in love with the culture and the music and the storytelling and Dublin. I keep trying to move back to New York but every time I do, it just reinstates that Ireland is now my home," said Ms Riordan who studied theatre at New York University and Trinity College Dublin.

The award-winning creative team includes: director John Tiffany designers Bob Crowley, Natasha Katzand Clive Goodwin, movement by Steven Hoggett and orchestrations by Martin Lowe.

Meanwhile, the 12 actors play 30 instruments during each performance including: guitar, cajon, melodica, harmonica, piano, violin, castanets, ukulele, mandolin, accordion, cello, drums and banjo.

Once opens next Thursday (July 16) and runs until August 22.

Sunday Independent

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