Once - In Concert
Rating: ★★★★★
Venue: London Palladium, London
Cast: Carrie Hope Fletcher, Jamie Muscato, Phil Adele, Kamilla Gregorovitch, Sean Keany, Alasdair Macrae, Jos Slovick, Christina Tedders, Angus Tikka, Susannah Van Den Berg and Michael Vien

Winner of 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, ONCE tells the unforgettable story of a Dublin street musician and a beautiful but quirky Czech woman, drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, as they assemble a band from her wild family and his unconventional mates, the music flows and they slowly fall in love.

For one day only, Once was back in the West End, to treat us with not just one, but two exclusive performances. Since Guy and Girl had been announced as Carrie Hope Fletcher and Jamie Muscato several weeks ago, I was incredibly excited at what this concert had in store, particularly as I hadn't seen it before.

If you're unfamiliar with the story of Once, it follows the journey of a nameless girl and guy. A Czech woman and an Irish man bond over their love of music and in just a matter of days, they realise what an effect they've had on one another's lives. It's full of joy, the thrill of new adventure, and the longing of what could have been.

What I find most remarkable about this concert is that they had less than a week of rehearsals to pull it together. This show could transfer to the West End for a run tomorrow, and I'd challenge anyone to be left disappointed - that's how good it was.

The show was stripped back and truly captured the magic of music. It was simplistic and understated, but that didn't take away the sheer beauty that was bursting from each note in every song. The lighting and mood was quite dull, which encouraged you to find the colour of the production on the stage; and boy, was it pouring out of every actor.

I think it goes without saying that Jamie Muscato was the star of the show. I will simply never tire of hearing him sing "Falling Slowly". While I've heard him perform the song at many gigs and concerts over the years, I had the pleasure of listening to it three times last night (thanks to technical difficulties), and he quite honestly has the smoothest and most sincere voice. "Gold", "Leave" and "Sleeping" were other mentionable numbers from Muscato. And did I mention he was playing the guitar throughout? When it comes to musical theatre, he almost isn't human!

As always, Jamie Muscato and Carrie Hope Fletcher were the dream team we were all expecting them to be. The chemistry they have onstage is undeniable, and I was reminded of it once again (excuse the pun!) last night. While the pair are fantastic apart, together they create something truly magical.

I particularly enjoyed seeing Carrie embrace a more comedic role. Her comedic timing was perfect throughout, and I hope to see her in similar roles in the future. Her performance of "The Hill" at the piano was nothing short of exceptional.

While we're speaking of comedy, a mention must go to Sean Keany, who played Billy. I don't often cry of laughter at the theatre, but his performance as Billy brought me to tears several times. His humour was absolutely genius

The cast also doubled as the orchestra, which I thought was incredible to watch, and made for one of the most talented casts I've ever seen on stage. "The North Strand" and "Ej Pada Pada Rosicka" managed to capture the pure artistry of the entire cast, and the energy within these songs was overflowing.

This production felt vulnerable and left nowhere to hide on stage, which I think is why it worked so well. It showed that musical theatre doesn't need to be showy, or over the top. Sometimes all you need is a guitar, a piano, a guy, and a girl. A truly beautiful concert that I wish I could experience again and again.

You can catch Carrie Hope Fletcher and Jamie Muscato singing "Falling Slowly", here.

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