Austin 101 Magazine

Review: Once Musical at Zach Theater Austin

Once opened September 19, 2018 and is currently running at Zach’s Topfer Theater. We first saw the movie a few years back and when we heard the musical was coming to Zach, we had to check it out. It’s a perfect story for Austin as it’s about a struggling musician who almost gives up on his dreams. It’s set in Ireland and filled with tons of emotion and a great story of love, family, and friendship. The film written and directed by John Carney, was based on the music of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (who perform in Swell Season). It was a great little indie movie, a sleeper, that did well. The soundtrack is awesome and the main track, “Falling Slowly” is a highlight.


‘Based on the 2007 Academy Award®-winning film, Once is an enchanting, modern love story about the complexities of relationships and the power of music to connect us all. Once tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music’ (

5-ZACHTheatre_ONCE_8626_PhotoCredit_KirkTuck.jpgThe male lead. “Guy”, Corbin Mayer, had a powerful voice with a great range- great highs and lows. Very, very difficult and rare. He reminded me of Ethan Hawke-who lives in Austin-and totally mirrors the lead in the movie as well. At times, the female lead, “Girl” Olivia Nice‘ character resembled music legend Carole King (minus the thick Czech accent). They both write and play beautiful songs. When Nice sat at the piano, it was beautiful. There was a full ensemble of musicians with several guitars, strings, accordion, sax, drums, and more. We especially loved all the strings, and the lead violinist also sang and was a standout. Everyone played, acted, and sang.


The set was very simple and the scenes are mostly in the bar where they work, and the roommate-filled apartment, and the shop. We would’ve loved a little more set change but it made sense. The band came out and played and there was a soft open, and for a moment we weren’t sure if the show had started. At times the story was a bit confusing and hard to follow, especially between the two leads. Was it a budding friendship or did they have a relationship in mind? She seemingly saves him from his own demise and depression, pushing him and inspiring him to pursue his dreams. There were times it felt a little slow, or long (but it worked well and followed the film). Adding complexity to their situation was that she had a daughter and the estranged husband lived far away. They both came off bad relationships to find love and adventure (we think) in New York. They recorded an album which we assume, leads to their success and happiness.

It’s obvious now why Once received 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show runs through October 28th. We love that theater in Austin is fantastic and yet affordable. Tickets start at $25. Check out more info at Zach Theater.


Corbin Mayer – Guy

Olivia Nice – Girl

Ben Hulan – Billy

Scotty Roberts – Da

Christabel Lin – Ex-Girlfriend

Beau Moore – Andrej

Ginna Doyle – Reza

Johnny Newcomb – Svec

Cami Alys – Baruska

Anya Gibian – Bank Manager

Luke Linsteadt – Emcee/Eamon



Dave Steakley – Director

Allen Robertson – Music Director

Cassie Abate – Choreographer

Donald Eastman – Scenic Designer

Susan Branch Towne– Costume Designer

Serret Jensen – Hair and Makeup Designer

Sarah Maines – Lighting Designer

Craig Brock – Sound Designer

Scott Groh – Properties Designer

Catherine Anne Tucker – Stage Manager

Megan Smith – Assistant Stage Manager

Diane Irwin – Assistant to the Director

%d bloggers like this: