MANSFIELD, OHIO. Once, the internationally acclaimed Oscar and Tony-winning musical, is coming to the Renaissance’s Theatre 166 for six performances only, April 22nd through May 1st, 2022.
When compared to other shows in the current repertoire, Once stands alone as a completely unique and original musical theatre production. Its central story – simple, hilarious, heartbreaking yet ultimately empowering and optimistic – tells of a street busker, known only as Guy, who meets a young Czech immigrant, (Girl) on the streets of Dublin. Though both are dealing with their own heartache and emotional brokenness, they discover the healing power of music. The unforgettable score was written by Irish folk rock legend, Glen Hansard, who went on to win the Oscar for best song for the poignant, Falling Slowly, from the 2007 film version of Once.
Director Michael Thomas has been a fan of the show since seeing it on Broadway ten years ago. “One of the biggest differences between Once and any other musical on the Broadway stage, is that its cast is asked not only to sing, act and move, but also play a musical instrument. And not just noodle around on it, but play it well.” Thomas assembled a cast from all over the United States. Daniella Rukin, is a guest artist from Chicago. “The music in this show is so hauntingly beautiful and it’s really incredible to share the stage with other musicians who are so talented and versatile. Just getting to listen to all of the music during the first week of rehearsals has been such a joyful privilege,” shares Rukin, who plays the role of “Girl.” Nashville’s Ryan Citrino, who plays Billy, a music store owner, and New York City’s Clayton Matthews, who plays Girl’s Czech roommate, Svec, agree. “This show is a truly unique experience. There’s such a natural intimacy that comes from the performance, but with a lush score performed by the entire ensemble, there are moments that also feel emotionally larger than life,” comments Citrino. With Matthews adding, “As a multi-instrumentalist, (as well as an actor and singer), I knew I had to be part of this show one day. And since it’s a story about finding passion for life again, it felt like poetic providence that the opportunity came to me after a year and a half of quarantine.”
The cast of 12 actor/musicians includes, Noah Sgamebellone (guitar) as Guy, Daniella Rukin (piano) as Girl, Ryan Citrino (guitar, mandolin, accordion, banjo) as Billy, Clayton Matthews, (electric bass, cello, ukulele, guitar) as Svec, Ryan Shreve (accordion) as Andrej, Allie Carter-Nicolas (violin), Jenna Krivosh (guitar, mandolin, ukulele, cajon) as Ex Girlfriend, Caroline Grace Williams (violin) as Reza, Colton Penwell (guitar, ukulele) as the Bank Manager, Stephanie Hayslip (cajon) as Baruska, and director Michael Thomas (cello, piano) as Da and Eamon. 4 year old Evelyn Extine rounds out the cast as Girl’s 4 year old daughter, Ivanka. Aaron Nicolas has designed the lights, with sets by Jason Kaufman and Abe Swanger, choreography by Caroline Grace Williams and costumes by the Ren’s wardrobe designer, Linda Turske. Nikolas Demers is the assistant director.
“Once is one of those rare productions that is truly joyous from the first rehearsal,” shares Thomas. “And we’re so very lucky to partner with Larry Miller and the wonderful, wonderful folks at Mansfield’s Metronome music. They have been so generous in lending us instruments and advising us. It’s impossible to calculate the impact Metronome has had on area musicians for the past 60 years.”
Once will be performed at the Ren’s Theatre 166, 166 Park Avenue West, for six performances, Friday and Saturday, April 22nd, 23rd, 29th and 30th at 8PM and Sunday, April 24th and May 1st at 2:30 PM. Due to the limited seating capacity in Theatre 166, shows often sell out quickly and therefore it is suggested that you reserve your seats early.