Theater people, of whom my mom was one, always talk about the ol’ Triple Threat: Dancing, Singing and Acting. If you can find someone who is good at all three, you have a star on your hands. With the musical “Once,” the adult cast really need to be Quadruple Threats, because in addition to the old standby talents, they are all top-quality musicians. No pit orchestra. No tapes. While the dancing is not particularly difficult, the actors play the music, either as part of the action or from their perches on chairs or on the bar of the scene. (And sometimes they dance AS they play, which IS pretty difficult). Guitars, drum set, cellos, accordion, violin — it all comes from on stage.
So it’s a bonus that this music-filled musical is Mt. Lebanon resident Kolette Tetlow’s first big-time theater gig. Tetlow, who plays Ivanka, the daughter of the lead female character (aptly named “Girl), has been traveling North America with the cast on the show’s first ever tour since this fall. She returned home to Pittsburgh this week to perform on the Benedum Center stage as part of the PNC Broadway Across America — Pittsburgh season. The show runs through March 16 and tickets are still available.
If you go, be prepared to be totally absorbed by the music and the story, based on the 2006 movie of the same name. The story follows Girl and (who’d guess this) Guy, a street singer who lost his girlfriend and his musical voice, but of course, Girl will help him get at least some of that back. (We don’t want to ruin the ending on this one). The movie spawned an Academy Award-winning song, “Falling Slowly.” Download the tour version.
Make sure you go early, because the audience gets to go onstage before the show begins to order a beverage from the bar (served in a clear plastic sippy cup presumably to protect the stage from wayward spills) and surround the cast as they belt out some traditional Irish and Czech party tunes. It may be the first and only time the rest of us get up on that stage with a chance to peer into the crowd to see what the actors see.
Catch Kolette at :19 in the montage. She is on stage for a portion of both acts, and gets to sing the rousing “Ej Pada Pada Rosicka” with the ensemble, in the scene where we meet Girl’s Czech family. As they say in Czech: perfektní!
Read our previous story about Kolette.