Based on the 2007 film of the same name, Once is a musical written and directed by John Carney. Like the film, music and lyrics were by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, including the Academy Award-winning “Falling Slowly”.

Once tells the unforgettable story of a Dublin street musician and a funny Czech woman, drawn together by their shared love of music. This smash-hit romance musical, co-produced with the New Wolsey Theatre, first opening in Ipswich before transferring to Hornchurch. This production continues the flourishing partnership between the two theatres following recent successes including Rope, Worst Wedding Ever, The Ladykillers and Made in Dagenham.

As we walked into the theatre the actors were already on stage, playing folk music you might associate with Ireland while dancing around and this overall joy is what really makes the night. Once is not a musical that tried to batter you into submission but instead captivates you with its delight and wonder, inviting you to join the party on the stage and become part of the family.

Daniel Healy plays the thirty-something Dublin busker (identified only as “Guy”), had some amazing skills when it came to singing and playing guitar and I found myself closing my eyes to get fully embraced by his voice through the whole night. He was also the master of emotion, portraying the rolling emotions of someone confused by love.

Emma Lucia is the real star of the show, playing the young Czech woman (identified only as “Girl”), the actress shines line a star through the show, playing piano and pushing “Guy” to keep going. I was shocked when I heard she’s only graduated from Mountview Academy in 2017 (BA (Hons)) meaning she doesn’t have many credits to her name, keep an eye out for her name in future productions.

Throughout the show the other actors act as an orchestra, staying in the shadows as the rest of the cast preform. Often we see their reaction to what’s happening on stage, even though they may not be part of the scene and this again helps us feel more included in the show, we are just another character standing in the shadows, reacting and laughing to what’s happening on stage.

The whole night is one full of laughter, music and dance. If you go to see a show this year, make it this one as it’s sure to pull at your heart strings and lift your spirits

HornchurchLife’s Reviews appear in the Trident magazine and Musical Theatre Review. If you would like to feature them on in website or magazine, contact us at