Wednesday, December 18, 2013

BBC/BBC America plan big send off to Matt Smith on "Doctor Who"

For "Who" fans this Christmas, Santa, crackers, figgy pudding and the lot will be taking a backseat as "Doctor Who" takes over Christmas.  BBC America is planning a full day of programming to honro of actor Matt Smith, who has been playing the 11th incarnation of the title character for four years and departs with this year's Christmas special.  

On tap Dec. 25th is the television premiere of the six-minute Doctor Who prequel, "The Night of The Doctor" at 5:00 p.m. followed by an encore of the 50th anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor."  A world premiere retrospective special, "Farewell to Matt Smith" airs at 7 p.m., followed by the premiere of Smith's last outing (for now --Time Lords always seem to have a way of coming back via cameos with "Doctor Who") of the iconic time traveler in "The Time of the Doctor" at 8 p.m. 

BBC America caught up with Executive producer and lead writer Steven Moffat, Smith and Jenna Coleman (who plays the Doctor's current time traveling companion Clara) to chat about Smith's impending departure and shared this interview:


Can you set the scene for this Christmas episode?
STEVEN MOFFAT: It’s his final battle and he’s been fighting it for a while.  The Doctor is facing the joint challenge of a mysterious event in space that has summoned lots of aliens to one place and helping Clara cook Christmas dinner.  There are also elements from every series of Matt’s Doctor, which will come to a head in this special. Things that we’ve laid down for years are going to be paid off. 

How was the read-through?
MOFFAT: It was emotional.   I think possibly the beginning of the end is more emotional than the actual end. It was the same with The Angels Take Manhattan, when Karen and Arthur left.  The read-throughs are the moments that tend to get people because obviously the shoot dissolves into what we hope will be a tremendously exciting wrap party.

Did you know what you wanted Matt’s last words to be?
MOFFAT: I didn’t think I would go that way, but a couple of months before I wrote it I did say to Mark (Gatiss) that I thought I knew what his last moment would be, and indeed his last line.  But if it didn’t fit the scene I wouldn’t crowbar it in.  I’ve had the vague storyline in place for a long while.

What episodes or scenes do you think will define Matt’s time as the Doctor?
MOFFAT: I think ‘The Eleventh Hour’ was such an extraordinary debut.  Everybody for a year of poor Matt Smith’s life had been saying, ‘total mistake. He’s far too young.’ Then he came in and he was brilliant.   ‘Vincent and The Doctor’ was also such a lovely episode and I was thrilled Richard Curtis was able to write for the show.   There’s the physical comedy that Matt has brought and of course fish fingers and custard. I think his relationship with his own TARDIS in The Doctor’s Wife was gorgeous.
What do you think distinguishes Matt from the other Doctors?
MOFFAT: I think he does old Doctor better than anybody else. It’s not an accident. It’s something he very, very consciously thought about. Because he was the youngest Doctor, Matt said, ‘he’s only got young skin. Nothing else is young.’ I think Matt makes you think very believably that he is this ancient being.

The Christmas special will introduce the next Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi.  What was it about Peter that you thought was right for the role?
MOFFAT: He’s one of the best actors in the country and is very beloved.  I was at the BAFTAs shortly before we were contemplating Peter and heard the cheer he got from the audience.  Nobody has a bad thing to say about him and that’s not a minor issue when it comes to casting a Doctor. They’ve got to be lovely. And he’s a huge fan of Doctor Who. So we asked and he was incredibly excited to come and audition. We didn’t tell him that he was the only person auditioning because that would be oddly pressuring.

Did you deliberately aim to cast an older Doctor?
MOFFAT: It wasn’t the reason I cast Peter but I do think if we’d cast another Doctor as young as Matt - because Matt’s been so good at being The Young Doctor - I’m not sure what another one would have done. They’d have to have either been deliberately different or just repeat him.  

Can you first tell us a little bit about the Christmas special?
MATT SMITH: The Christmas special for me is a bitter sweet episode because I’m leaving, but Steven has written a brilliant, adventurous, funny episode and I’m really thrilled with it.  It feels wonderfully Christmassy.

What did you want from your last episode?
SMITH: I think it’s good for the Doctor to go out with a bang, a crash and a wallop. I’m pleased it’s really funny and mad.  When I got to the last 20 pages and it was quite a hard read for me, but I hope it’s going to be a belter. 
We’ve got a great director in Jamie Payne and some really lovely double hand stuff with me and Jenna.  Steven’s managed to tie in plot points and narratives that have been threaded through over years and I think that’s ingenious.

Emotionally, how did it feel to be doing your final performance?
SMITH: It felt very emotional to be doing my final episode. My mother is mortified, honestly she was at the front of the campaign for me to stay and wasn’t happy when I said I was going to leave. But, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Of course, it’s very sad for me in many ways because everything is the last time. It’s the last read through, the last time I put on the bow tie and the last scene in the TARDIS. But the show is about change and I had lunch with Peter Capaldi shortly after the announcement and I think he’s just going to be incredible.  He has the most brilliant ideas.  As a fan, I’m genuinely excited to see what he’s going to do because I think he’s going to do something extraordinary.

So you’re still going to be a fan?
SMITH: Yeah, absolutely, I’ll be a fan.  I’m very grateful to Steven Moffat and that whole team up in Wales for the past four years and you know I want the show to go from strength to strength, which it will. It might take me a couple of weeks to get my head around it. I think it was the same for David and I think it was the same for Karen, when she watched Jenna come in. I don’t think it’s easy, but it’s not my show, it’s the fans show,
so I’ll be a fan and then it will be my show.
Have you been given anything by the fans as a leaving present?
SMITH: I was doing a promo shoot for the 50th and these two girls came on set.  They had made me this book which must have had 50 or 60 letters in, saying thank you for being Doctor Who.  Things like that are amazing. I’ve said it before, the fans of this show are really spectacular and they’ve made this an extraordinary journey for me and I’m very, very grateful.  I don’t think there’s another set of fans like it.

Can we expect some nods to past series with this Christmas special? Are we referencing old specials?
SMITH: With Doctor Who you’re always looking back and forward at the same time, because you tend to be jumping around.  I don’t want to give too much away, but obviously when you look at my tenure over the last four years, there are stories and plot points and villains in there that are particular to my Doctor and I think he’s got to face all that.

How did you find the read-through?  Was it emotional?
JENNA COLEMAN: It was a very emotional read-through.  Just going through the process of saying goodbye was difficult.  The script itself is very emotional, but also joyous.  But saying those words and saying goodbye was never going to be easy.   

Is there a sense from the start of the episode that we’re moving towards a regeneration?
COLEMAN: It’s very much an adventure, but it goes off on a different track.  People watching will know that it’s Matt’s last episode, but it doesn’t loom over from the start. 

We were introduced to Clara as the impossible girl last year.  Are we going to find out more about her family background?
COLEMAN:  Absolutely.  I think there had to be a sense of mystery last year to make the plot work.  What’s really interesting is that it does feel like we’re starting again and we get to see her home life as well as her life with the Doctor.

From a few pictures that have been released there are some of you cooking Christmas dinner.  Have you ever done that in real life?
COLEMAN: My mum does the Christmas cooking.  It couldn’t be any other way. 

Are you looking forward to filming next year with Peter?
COLEMAN: It will be a different show next year.  We have a bit of a gap before we start filming the new series, so I have time to get my head around it all.  Me and Peter will get together before Christmas to start rehearsing and the scripts will start coming in.  When I came in I think there was just a week off in production where Arthur and Karen left, so that would have been a strange shift. This episode is very much about Matt and the Eleventh Doctor and Clara and the Eleventh Doctor and their last adventure together.  I have no idea where we’re going next series!

Where will you be watching the special this year?  Will you be at home?
COLEMAN: Yeah I think so.  Last year the whole family got a cottage together where mum still did the Christmas cooking.  We’ll definitely all be together.

What was your reaction when you heard the next Doctor was Peter Capaldi?
COLEMAN: It was kind of that moment ‘of course, makes sense’.  It’s funny as I don’t think he was one of the names that was originally being speculated about and it wasn’t until the week before that his name came up.  He’s going to be so different to Matt and take the show in an interesting direction. 

When were you told?
COLEMAN:  Matt and I were told together during the Royal visit to Roath Lock studios.   We could tell something was going on and we managed to pin the producers down and get it out of them! 

How hard was it to keep the secret?
COLEMAN:  I think I’ve learned my lesson in that the best thing to do is not to tell anybody and then you don’t have your own paranoia that you’ve let something out. 

What will you miss about working with Matt?
COLEMAN:  Everything!  When you’re reading a scene with him he can turn anything on its head.  He’s so inventive, clever and very funny.  There’s just so much that I’ll miss about him. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

About Face Theatre's "We Three Lizas" razzles and dazzles for the holidays

From left: Liza is (Mark David Kaplan), Liza Always (Bethany Thomas) and Liza Was (Danielle Plisz) in About Face Theatre’s 2013-14 production of "WeThree Lizas"  Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Cross posted from 
God bless us, everyone (with jazz hands).  

Not to apply a post-structuralism lens to the proceedings, but in a nutshell, About Face Theatre’s “We Three Lizas” applies Queer theory to (among other things) A Christmas Carol, The Gift of the Magi, holiday TV variety shows and even the Weird Sisters from “Macbeth. The end result is a most satisfying Dickensian musical romp that remains accessible to all.

Substantially re-worked and revamped from the intimate Garage space at Steppenwolf last year, the show, with book and lyrics by Scott Bradley (“Carpenters Halloween” and “Alien Queen”) and music.and additional lyrics by Alan Schmuckler (“The Emperor’s New Clothes”), rightfully deserves to be an annual holiday tradition. 

Scott Duff is Conrad (nee Conrad Ticklebottom) and he hasn’t just given up his last name to achieve success in the big city. He’s managed to claw his way to the top by alienating everyone close to him. Once the maker of a must-have product, he has refused to alter the look or design and has lost so much market share, an unseen board of directors has dispatched a hatchet woman (Sharriese Hamilton) to clean up the books and give him the boot from his own company.

His clarion wake-up call comes to him in the form of three bearded witches Danielle Plisz as Liza Was, Mark David Kaplan as Liza Is and Bethany Thomas as Liza Always). The witches promise him three gifts if he drinks their potion. The gifts end up being clarity to his Christmases past, present and future. Incarnations of Liza act as the ghosts of Christmases. 

Duff beings the proceedings sufficiently Grinch-like and as the evening wears on slowly begins to show Conrad’s faults and vulnerabilities. The character is very much broad strokes and caricature (much like your average Scrooge is), but Duff injects enough humanity to his character that you end up genuinely caring for him.  

Dana Tretta is Reggie, Conrad’s much-put-upon right hand whose talents go unnoticed by both her boss as well as her potential love interest. Though petite, Tretta packs a boffo set of pipes that are particularly well suited for “Donna Doesn’t Notice Me.” 

Andrew Swan (“Steamworks: The Musical”) plays Young Conrad opposite Conrad’s true love Beau (John Francisco). . Their duet “Please Handle With Care” serves as both a recommendation to not rattle the packages, nor break hearts. Swan and Francisco’s voices are evenly matched in this touching holiday song that waxes nostalgically about those times when you may have been poor in money, but not in spirit. The pair also displays some nimble footwork as Fosse-style back-up dancers to Liza. 

Patrick Andrews’ choreography offers up enough referential movement that it borders on homage to both Ms. Minnelli and the many talented choreographers who have found inspiration through her.
Of the three Lizas, Plisz (Liza Was) will probably be the most memorable. She has the moves, mannerisms and –perhaps most importantly—a close facsimile of Minnelli’s iconic red Halston turtleneck minidress. Plisz captures all of Liza Was’ youthful exuberance in “I Can’t Believe I’m Me.”   

Bradley’s Liza (or should that be Lizas) finds much in common with “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Who wouldn’t argue that Ms. Minnelli’s career has featured more ebbs and flows than the tide? Unlike Molly Brown, the 67 year-old daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli has certainly had her share of more than just one Titanic-size disaster (“Arthur 2,” her perchant for marrying gay men and don’t even get me started on her wardrobe choice of spandex  while performing the title song in the 1940’s-set flop “New York, New York”). Through triumph and tragedy, Ms. Minnelli has remained “Liza with a Z not Lisa with an S.” It’s that very ability to persevere amidst career missteps, broken hips and broken marriages that has –in part—made Ms. Minnelli a gay icon. 

Ms. Minnelli is also a suitable icon for the holidays, too. Life is hard. People suck. Holidays occasionally disappoint. You can be the butt of the joke or make certain you are in on it. “We Three Lizas” would seem to urge us not to take ourselves –or our holiday traditions too seriously. And when things go wrong (and they most assuredly will), we should all take a cue from Ms. Minnelli: recognize that a mistake is in a certain way its own gift; one which we should put a glittery bow on and stick it under the tree. 

“We Three Lizas” runs through Jan. 5 at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. Tickets, $45 ($20 students). Call 773.327.5252, or

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Wicked" still "Popular" a decade later

Elphaba (Alison Luff, left) and Glinda (nee Galinda,
played by Jenn Gambatese), share a friendly moment in "Wicked"
Photo by Joan Marucs
Cross-posted from

It almost seems inconceivable that it has been more than 10 years since I first caught "Wicked" in previews in New York. Since that time, the show was named best musical by Time Magazine, recouped its initial $14 million investment in 14 months and has broken numerous box-office records around the world.

The original Chicago sit-down production (at the time the first sit-down production of a major Broadway show that the city had seen in years) ran for three-and-a-half years , played over 1,500 performances and grossed a gravity-defying $200 million in box office here in Chicago alone.

This marks the sixth or seventh time I have seen the show (I've reviewed it twice -including the original Chicago sit-down production). The Oriental Theater (where the show is again playing through Dec. 21) is practically a second home to Elphaba and Glinda (also known respectively as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good).

Luff, defying gravity eight shows a week. Photo by Joan Marcus
The current production's Elphaba, Alison Luff, appears less comfortable in the character's awkward teen years, but comes into her own when she embraces the "wickedness" of her character. I had particular trouble with Luff's choices during a scene in a ballroom. In previous productions, Elphaba dances alone while the rest of the dance hall stares and laughs. In prior productions, the moves -while strange and certainly unique-have embodied a certain grace and beauty. Luff plays the awkwardness a bit too broad, here. I suppose it makes some sense (given this is the character's first dance party), but we are never really afforded the opportunity to see the inner beauty beneath the awkwardness.

Gambatese demonstrates Glinda's preferred mode of travel.
Photo by Joan Marcus
Jenn Gambatese's transformation from bubble-head Galinda to bubble-flying witch Glinda feels a bit more real, somehow. Vocally, she's the best Glinda I've had the pleasure of hearing (Apologies to Ms. Luff, but Ana Gasteyer still holds the title of my favorite Elphaba). One gets a full sense of the moral "weight" her character is carrying in "Thank Goodness," when Gambatese sings about the price of getting everything you want.   In addition to knowing her way around the musical's score and dramatic moments, Gambatese's also a great comedian, finding some interesting and unique moments to mine laughter.

Curt Hansen (Fiyero) can melt more than just two witches' hearts.
Photo by Joan Marcus
As Fiyero (the shallow rogue who comes between the two witches) Curt Hansen's movements at the end of the second act -without spoiling too much for those who have never taken a trip down "Wicked's " yellow brick road-are more in line with the character he is revealed to be. It's a nice twist and a welcome sight to those who have seen the show more than a few times.

As Elphaba's wheelchair-bound sister (and the future Wicked Witch of the East) Jaime Rosenstein's second act transformation is also more in tune with a collective memory of just who the Wicked Witch of the East is.

Never trust a smiling Wizard (John Davidson).
Photo by Joan Marcus
The show's Wizard, John Davidson, is a bit more "used car salesman" that corn-fed huckster for my tastes. And yet, when he sings of longing to be a parent, it's with heartfelt sincerity that works particularly well.

Kim Zimmer (Reva Shayne on "Guiding Light") does as much as she can with the thankless role of Madam Morrible, given the character is the least nuanced of any of the main characters and serves as the only true villainous person in the show.

"Wicked" is starting to show its age, at least in one regard. A comment late in the second act regarding a "regime change," which caused a collective audience gasp 10 years ago in the New York preview performance, doesn't hold the power it once did. Though we are still paying for the Iraq war (and will be doing so for several years), Americans have moved on -at least politically.

"Wicked" still holds much magic, however. "For Good" -the duet between the two witches, still speaks to that special bond of sisterhood, motherhood and basically any other 'hood you can think of.

Additionally, pretty much anyone should be able to identify with one of the show's central themes: that we sometimes have to abandon our idols, lovers and friends in order to reach our own potentials and soar.

Wicked" runs through Dec. 21 at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. Tickets $37 to $107. Call (800) 775-2000.

Reeling fest presents ex-Columbia student’s Chicago love story

Actors Kyle Wigent and Tanner Rittenhouse watch the sunrise
over Lake Michigan in "In Bloom"
 Originally posted on Chicago Sun-Times website:

The joy and pain of first love are front and center in “In Bloom,” an ambitious and heartfelt drama to be screened during Reeling, the Chicago Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgendered International Film Festival.

Set in Chicago, the film has won critical praise for the first-time writer and director, former Columbia film student Chris Birkmeier. Critics have likened the actors’ performances to the natural Chicago style of theater performance seen regularly at Steppenwolf, Lookingglass and others.

“I am a huge fan of realistic and honest acting and realistic and honest filmmaking,” says Birkmeier, humbled by the comparison. “The genesis of this project was an analysis of the breakdown of a relationship.”

The film follows the relationship between pot-smoking drug dealer Kurt (Kyle Wigent) and goal-oriented Paul (Tanner Rittenhouse) as it plays out over the course of a typical Chicago summer. Local stage actor Adam Fane (“Avenue Q”) plays Kevin, the man who comes between the two.
Now 23, Birkmeier began writing the script when he was 20 and studying at Columbia. It is loosely based on his own first serious relationship.

“I came out at 19. I met said person. We had a four-year, on-and-off relationship, and I started writing to try and put it all in perspective,” he says.

"In Bloom" director Chris Birkmeier (right) gives
direction to Rittenhouse on set.
Perhaps complicating things further, co-star Rittenhouse is Birkmeier’s good friend and was around as most of the real relationship flamed out.

“It was sometimes painful for us both to be on the set,” Birkmeier says. “Certainly for me to see certain scenes played out again before me, but as an actor Tanner went from being an observer to participant.”

Reeling Film Festival program director Richard Knight Jr. says it wasn’t just the Chicago setting that made him want to include the movie in this year’s festival.

“It reminded me of my 20s in Chicago,” says Knight. “It’s a very interesting look at a typical relationship that happens to be between two guys. It feels very real and truthful.”

The film was shot over a period of 23 days, in and around Chicago. Tthe shoot didn’t always go smoothly.

Kyle Wigent as Kurt (left) and Tanner Rittenhouse (as Paul)
share a quintessential Chicago moment: a conversation under
the L tracks.
“In one scene, Kurt and Paul are arguing by the L tracks. If you ever have tried to have a conversation by the L tracks, inevitably a train will come by and you both stop talking mid-sentence until the train passes,” recalls Birkmeier, who thought such an interruption would be a nice Chicago touch. “We did four takes waiting for the train and it never came by. We had a rat run into the scene. Twice.”

The final cut of the film contains the scene with the vermin, but even that wasn’t the most difficult shot.

“I wanted this long tracking shot of the sun as it comes up over Lake Michigan,” he says. “The entire crew was using various iPhone apps trying to figure out when and where the sun was going to be coming up. I wanted to use a dolly shot, but before we could figure out how to set it up, the sun started coming up and we had to settle for a static shot. I yelled cut and the entire crew and I were screaming like kids because we knew we had got the perfect shot.” 

The main cast and Birkmeier, who now calls Seattle home, will be reunited at the screening of the film that Birkmeier calls his love letter to Chicago.

“It’s a tragic love letter, but a love letter nonetheless,” he says. “Every subway, alleyway, apartment and street that was the setting for those four years is, in some ways, a part of the film.”

More Reeling highlights: a Bavarian king, ‘Victor/Victoria’ and Divine

Originally posted at the Chicago Sun-Times website:

The opening film of this year’s Reeling is equal parts “Heathers,” “Mean Girls” and “Clueless.” Michael J. Willett (“The United States of Tara”) stars as Tanner, who, after he is outed, becomes caught in a tug-of-war between three rival cliques of popular girls, all of whom want him for this season’s must-have high school accessory, the gay best friend. The comedy is both biting and heartfelt. It features a who's who of up-and-coming young actors including Andrea Bowen ("Desperate Housewives"), Paul Iacono ("The Hard Times of R. J. Berger") and Molly Tarlov ("Awkward"). 7 p.m. Thursday, Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. $15-$40

With an estimated budget of more than $21 million, “Ludwig II” is arguably the most expensive film to ever appear at Reeling. The 2012 Austrian film (in German with subtitles) is an epic and lavish biography of one of Bavaria’s best-known kings including his struggles with his sexuality, his patronage of composer Richard Wagner and the opulent and expensive castles he built. It drags a bit in the middle, but history buffs will find the subject matter enlightening. 9:15 p.m. Thursday, Logan Theatre, $15-$40
Jeffrey Schwarz’s 2013 documentary profiles the late actor from his early days as a shy, overweight kid from Baltimore (born Harris Glenn Milstead) to his breakthrough as the 300-pound superstar Divine who brought drag into the mainstream in such cult hits as “Hairspray” and “Pink Flamingos.” Collaborator John Waters is featured (naturally), but it’s the interview with Milstead’s mom that really tugs at your heartstrings. 4:45 p.m. Sunday, Logan Theatre, $12

‘REACHING FOR THE MOON’ declared this “one of the biggest lesbian films of the year.” It’s also one of the best. Miranda Otto (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy) delivers an elegant performance as Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop, and Brazilian TV star Gloria Pires is virtually unrecognizable as the butch gal who steals Bishop’s heart. 6:45 p.m. Nov. 14, Logan Theatre, $15-$40

Both Reeling and the film “Victor\Victoria” celebrate their 31st anniversary this year. To commemorate this, comedian and gay icon Bruce Vilanch hosts a sing-along of the gender-bending comedy. Locals will be expected to know all the words to one of the greatest songs ever written about the Windy City, “Chicago, Illinois” (sung in the film by Lesley Anne Warren, who earned a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her performance). 6 p.m. Monday, Sidetrack: The Video Bar, 3349 N. Halsted, $15

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Once" is worthwhile, intimate and emotional theater

Guy (Stuart Ward and Girl (Dani de Waal) share a moment in "Once."

In the Tony award-winning musical “Once” (playing the Oriental Theatre through Oct. 27.), Guy (Stuart Ward) begins the show with a failed relationship behind him (his ex-girlfriend has moved to New York). He works his way through a song written for her on an empty street corner. The performance by Ward is so passionate, he broke a guitar string during this particular show. Disgusted by the lack of a street audience (and perhaps the broken string), he tosses the guitar into its case and walks away from it.

Life –and in particular, life’s disappointments, have a way of scaring us so much, we become immovable. Guy is very much frozen where he is at. Crashing in a child-size bedroom in a tiny flat he shares with his widowed “Da” (a fine-voiced Raymond Bokhour), above the vacuum repair shop where he works with his father, Guy is unable to move forward or go back. Meanwhile, life continues to happen around him.  It is one of those universal truths and I immediately felt a connection to the stage version of the character that I did not feel with the film version.

It’s one of many moments which demonstrates not only why this is not merely a Broadway producer’s attempt to capitalize on a known property by adapting yet another film for the stage (the show is based on the 2007 independent hit of the same name whose best known song, “Falling Slowly,” won an Oscar)  but also that playwright Enda Walsh’s Outer Critics Circle and Tony Awards for best book are so rightfully deserved.  It crystallizes everything about the character in both a verbal and visual way. Walsh uses the bones of the familiar film scene and manages to breathe new life and meaning to it.

“Once” is another must-see in a Chicago theater season that is turning out to be one that will be remembered and talked about for years.
Guy is, of course, saved from merely giving up by Girl (Dani de Waal), a Czech immigrant who was drawn to his passionate street performance like a siren song and selflessly spends the rest of the show convincing Guy that his music and lyrics need to be heard. She tells him it was fate the two should meet. She also has a vacuum cleaner in need of repair.

It’s worth noting that deWaal’s performance is more nuanced than the character was in the film (for one, she is not as cold and matter of fact). de Waal managed to find a few comedic moments to mine without betraying her character.
Left to Right: Alex Nee (Andrej), Matt DeAngelis (Svec), Stuart Ward (Guy),
Evan Harrington (Billy), Benjamin Magnuson (Bank Manager) and Dani de Waal (Girl)
 Other standouts in the terrific cast include Evan Harrington as music store owner Billy, and Girl’s flatmates Svec (Matt DeAngelis), Andrej (Alex Nee), Reza (Claire Wellin) and Girl’s mom, Baruska (Donna Garner).
The performances, under the watchful eye of director John Tiffany, feel organic. The movement by Steven Hoggett seems to have an undercurrent of longing that feels appropriate for the piece.

Left to Right: Donna Garner (Baruska), Alex Nee (Andrej),
Dani de Waal (Girl), Claire Wellin (Reza) and Matt DeAngelis (Svec).
I still keep coming back to Walsh’s script, though. Another scene later on between Guy and Da is rendered completely profound through an additional line of dialog written for the stage. Da simply asks Guy “How’s the heart?” It’s exactly the kind of shorthand used in close knit families.

Frankly, most Broadway shows based on hit movies should be so lucky to have someone like Walsh at the wheel. Walsh has succeeded in taking a good movie and making it a great piece of extraordinary theater. . It’s a quiet, intimate musical that despite all the Tony awards has a distinct “un-Broadway” feel to it in the same way the original independent film felt “un-Hollywood.” Believe me, that’s a good thing.
 “Once” runs through Oct. 27 at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph. Tickets $27-$95. Call 800-775-2000. or