Archive for January, 2014


Mother’s Night Out with Soulful R&B Superstar


DPAC, Durham Performing Arts Center
May 11, 2014

R&B vocalist Jaheim is coming to DPAC on Sunday, May 11, 2014. Celebrate Mother’s Day with soulful superstar Jaheim live in concert. This show is presented in partnership with The DOME Group, Inc.

Tickets on sale:

Online at

DPAC Ticket Center: 919.680.2787, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC / Ticketmaster Charge by phone at 800.745.3000

“Over the past 5 years, Jaheim has been one of the artists that is most requested by concert-goers. We’re so excited to finally have the opportunity to bring him to the market,” says Sulaiman Mausi, President of The DOME Group Inc.

With his smooth, sonorous tone, Jaheim is the forerunner and torch-carrier of today’s soul-originated R&B. A vocalist in the tradition of such greats as Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross, he signed with former Naughty By Nature beat man Kay Gee’s Devine Mill record label in 2000. Jaheim released three albums over five years: his 2001 debut, Ghetto Love; 2002’s sophomore set, Still Ghetto – both of which reached RIAA platinum status; and 2006’s Ghetto Classics. During that time, he also scored nominations for the BET and Soul Train Music Awards.

In 2007, the chart-topping artist returned with his Atlantic Records debut, The Makings of a Man, followed by Another Round in 2010. He was nominated for three Grammy awards in 2011. Jaheim’s most recent album Appreciation Day was recently named in iTunes’ “Best of 2013” and features top 10 single “Age Ain’t A Factor”.


G-Eazy at The Cat’s Cradle – March 31, 2014

Posted: January 31, 2014 by MichaelSmithNC in All, Concert, Music
Tags: , ,


The Cat’s Cradle

Carrboro, NC

March 31, 2014

G-Eazy has an agenda. For the last couple of years he’s been trying to finish school while building up a grassroots fan-base across the US. Schooled in the bay, tested in New Orleans, G isn’t a stranger to paying dues. His live shows have turned heads from the smallest of Midwest clubs all the way up to arenas on dates with Lil Wayne, Big Sean, and Drake, among others. The pothead turned college underachiever turned pothead is out to prove that he’s isn’t just that. Without label support G has trekked across the US on multiple tours breaking hearts with his James Dean meets hip-hop vibe and unforgettable live shows. It’s not hype. It’s not a hit. It’s not an image. It’s all of the above, the product of diligence that only a true fan understands; G reinterprets what he loves, not what everyone wants to hear, but in 2011 its looking like those two paths are starting to merge.

G’s been a fixture on the local New Orleans rap scene for a few years and more recently in the music blogosphere, but in the last few months his popularity has surged and as his national profile has grown exponentially. His latest mixtape, The Endless Summer, produced Runaround Sue, who’s sun stroked throwback video garnered over 100,000 plays on Youtube in less than a week. But it all comes back to the live show, one New Orleans music blogger summed it up with, “the young crowd was reaching the levels of mass hysteria reserved for the 50s and 60s rock ‘n’ roll legends to whom G-Eazy has been paying so much homage these days.”

Tickets: HERE


MAS – You have been in comedy touring for around 20 years and have been to, easily, hundreds of cities and played in hundreds of venues. Looking back, which of your shows do you feel like is your crowning achievement to date?

Bruce Bruce – I don’t really know, I don’t think I have gotten to that point yet. All the shows I have ever done in any theater or in any club I have so much fun and all of my crowds are basically the same. Also, I always give 100% with whatever I do. So, I haven’t gotten to that theater yet where I think I achieve anything like that. I am still out there having fun.

MAS – On the other side of that, are there any shows that you have done that you wish you could do over again?

Bruce Bruce – Oh yeah, there are shows that I wish I could go do again. I have never had one that I can’t go back to, never had a bad show. But shows that I would like to do again, I would like to host BET Comic View again. The previous show that I did, I thought that it was very good and it was a very good year. I think we had over 2 million viewers, and that was pretty good.

MAS – What is there in your career that you would like to do that you haven’t already done?

Bruce Bruce – I would like to host my own TV talk-show. I would like to host a show like Johnny Carson. I think I could get anybody to do the show and I think I am a great person to interview them. I have the personality for it. That’s one thing I’d like to do. I’d like to have a long run like Jay Leno, who took over for Carson. I’d like to have a show like that. I’d like to have the desk, I’d like to have the whole setup, couch everything.

MAS – I forget which show it was that I was watching of yours, but I watched you go person to person lighting them up joking on them as they were walking to their seats during your set. Have you ever really pissed anybody off doing that?

Bruce Bruce – Yeah, I think I have pissed someone off but I have a way of making it up to them right there onstage. I don’t know how I do it, but I have seen people really get pissed and then said things to them and done some things to them in the midst of the show and they have forgotten about the whole entire thing. They are laughing and loving it, they are like “First, you pissed me off, but we really like you, you are really good.” By the way, when I do it, it is nothing degrading, nothing personal, nothing to intimidate you, it’s all in fun. If I see a big guy, I’m gonna talk about me and him. He’s gonna think the joke is on me and him, but it’s really on him. He doesn’t realize it, but that is how I do it, a maneuver that I do.

MAS – You have a huge library of material, like an encyclopedia Britannica of comedy to pull from. What can we expect from you?

Bruce Bruce – Definitely different, I have different stuff that I do. Also, I do a meet and greet after each show. I always have the, “Why didn’t you do that joke?” Some people really want to hear some of the old stuff, so a lot of time when I go out on stage I ask, “What do you want to hear?” because a lot of time people just want to hear the old stuff, I definitely have new stuff that is really, really good. The key thing is how my show goes…You go to a comedy show and you see the comedian and they give you a roller-coaster ride. One minute they are very funny and then they come down and then they go back up again and then they come down. I don’t do the roller-coaster ride, I pick you up and I leave you right there. That is my whole goal, I want to pick you up and leave you laughing right there. I don’t do the roller-coaster ride; that is not comfortable to me. I come do a great job, so I am going to pick you up and up.

MAS – I have talked to some of the more controversial comedy acts; Jim Norton, Tracey Morgan, etc. They are all not afraid to push the envelope in subject matter. In hearing your set, you talk about some of the same subjects; race, women, sex, etc. but with a completely different tone. What has pushed you to use that type of material and the tone that you use?

Bruce Bruce – Well, honestly… I think, once you have a person’s attention, once you get their attention you can just about sell them on anything. When you go to church, you go anywhere, you go to a seminar; once they have your attention; you have a tendency of listening. When I have people’s attention I think that is my outlet, especially with guys, to let them know about racism, and relationships; I do a lot on relationships. They need to know these things. A lot of guys, they don’t know, they think they know because they feel they are a grown man, “I’m a grown man now, I’m a big man,” a lot of time we just don’t know. Once I have their attention, I just lay it on them and it just comes natural for me.

MAS – You have been in this business for around 20 years…

Bruce Bruce – 24 years in 2014, I’ve been doing it for 24 years professionally.

MAS – That kind of experience makes you a subject matter expert; you are the man to ask. Let’s pretend I am an up-and-coming comedian, I want to be the next Bruce Bruce… How do I do it?

Bruce Bruce – The key thing is, you have to have a passion. I need to know if you have a passion for doing stand-up. If you do have a passion for it, be creative and use your own material. Don’t take bits a pieces of other people’s material. I can see you taking somebody’s style, but not their material. Use it to your advantage. It’s not hard to pick up a lot of material. I tell every young comedian, I go up to the mall and I sit and I watch people and that is how I gather my material. I learn things about the city, so when I come up on stage I’m gonna say something about the city that you think I don’t know anything about. It is about bringing creativity and being original and using your own material. Energy, you’ve got to have energy, but first and foremost, you’ve got to have the passion for it. If you have that passion, you can go to the top…



Walnut Creek Amphitheatre

Raleigh, NC

May 29, 2014

Tickets: HERE


Ringo Starr and His 12th All Starr Band


Steve Lukather, Richard Page, Gregg Rolie, Todd Rundgren, and Gregg Bissonette

Durham Performing Arts Center
June 22, 2014

Ringo Starr will perform with this current All Starr Band at DPAC on Sunday, June 22, 2014. This is the same line up Ringo has played with since 2012 and features Steve Lukather, Richard Page, Gregg Rolie, Todd Rundgren and Gregg Bissonette.

Tickets on sale:

Online at

DPAC Ticket Center: 919.680.2787, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC / Ticketmaster Charge by phone at 800.745.3000


“I love playing with this band,” Ringo said, “and I can’t wait to get back out and play with them again.”

Photo Credit - Amanda Searle

Photo Credit – Amanda Searle

 Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure World Tour

Durham Performing Arts Center
May 21, 2014

“Sheer Comic Genius. He is the most brilliant stand-up comedian of his generation.” – The New York Times

“The funniest man in, well, pretty much all of the known universe” – The Los Angeles Times

“The greatest British standup comedian of his generation” – The London Sunday Times

“A national treasure” – The Guardian


Online at

DPAC Ticket Center: 919.680.2787, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC / Ticketmaster Charge by phone at 800.745.3000

Force Majeure is the most extensive comedy tour ever; launched in March of 2013, the tour will take Izzard to 25 countries on five continents. From Cardiff to Kathmandu and Moscow to Mumbai, Force Majeure will play throughout Europe, Africa, Russia, the U.K., Canada, the U.S., India, Nepal, The Far East and Australia. Izzard recently completed runs in France performing entirely in French and in Berlin performing entirely in German.

One of the most acclaimed comedians of his generation, Izzard’s unique, tangential, absurd, and surreal comic narratives are lauded for their creativity and wit, earning him a New York Drama Desk Award and two Emmys for Dress to Kill, two British Comedy Awards for Top Stand-Up Comedian, and an Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement.

In the U.S., Izzard is the first solo stand-up comedian to perform at the Hollywood Bowl, has sold-out three consecutive nights at Radio City Music Hall and toured arenas throughout the U.S. including a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden.

On TV, Izzard most recently guest starred in the series, Hannibal, on NBC.  He starred in and served as a producer on the critically acclaimed FX Network Show, The Riches, opposite Minnie Driver, guest starred in the final season of Showtime’s United States of Tara, and his 2010 documentary, Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, received an Emmy nomination.

His long list of film and stage credits includes Valkyrie opposite Tom Cruise, Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Thirteen and Ocean’s Twelve opposite George Clooney and Brad Pitt, David Mamet’s Race and The Cryptogram, the title role in Marlowe’s Edward II, and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg in London and on Broadway which won him a handful of awards, including a Tony nomination for Best Actor.





Images from Facebook


MAS – Your Proud2Pay program, and Crenshaw, have generated a ton of recognition for you as a business mind. I see interviews with you all over talking about your marketing strategies and business acumen. I’m not seeing a lot of people talking about your lyrical style or your album content. I know the old saying is “there is no such things as bad press”, but what do you think about all the attention being paid to your marketing strategy instead of your album content?

Nipsey Hussle – I think that people have already accepted that fact about Nipsey Hussle; that Nipsey is a great lyricist, that Nipsey is a true artist, and that he represents a real condition. You know what I’m saying? The condition of South-Central Los Angeles and the West Coast in general. I think that is a known fact. I think for them to see me take a stand as a businessman and innovate in the category of marketing and release strategy that was new information about Nipsey Hussle. I think that was something that was a new discovery. I think that is why you saw a lot of attention being paid to the campaign Proud2Pay, Fuck the Middle Man, $100 Mix Tape. The direction we chose to go in with our stance in the game as an owner, I think that was all new information. I think artists, like myself, who have been around 3, 4 or 5 years, that’s what people look for in your conversations. When they get a new convo from you, they look for the new information; they look for the new discovery. I think that was what was new about Crenshaw and just that moment in time. You  know?

But I felt that also, I told my team, the marketing plan was the single for this album. The tape’s strategy was the single because that was what was the most important to us. At my show, that’s where I get the feedback for my lyrics, my energy and my message; my concerts, that’s where I really check and see. The people can say whatever they want in the magazines and in the interviews. When people come out, pay money, stand in line, scream your lyrics at the top of their breath, sweat, you know what I’m saying, and get hysterical. To me, that’s the most honest form of feedback.

MAS – Right now you are still working as an independent; I know the typical path to success is to get hooked up with a major label or group like Shady, Cash Money or something like them. Are there any specific groups out there that you think you would be a good fit? I know that you tried to get something going with Rick Ross and MMG that go derailed, but are there any others that get you thinking?

Nipsey Hussle – The Rick Ross and MMG thing didn’t get derailed; it was just conversations, getting to know each other. Respecting what we are doing and seeing if there was a situation that makes sense businesswise. That is still an ally of mine and a friend and a homeboy I look to for life and advice.  Just a real individual outside of music, you know the capacity of what he can do within music. As far as just focused, passionate talented dudes, I draw them type of people.

To answer the question, you know, I think that my goal is to exist in the game the way that the people that we grew up looking up to existed in the game. Master P exists as an owner. Brian Williams and Slim Williams, you know the Williams Brothers, they exist as owners. You know what I’m saying? Jay-Z, Puffy, they all exist as owners. You know, their careers had ups and downs but I think the thing that really distinguished them from the rest of the pack is that they fought for ownership and they fought for excellence. And so, I am just doing what I was raised looking up to. I always looked up to those individuals because they fought for that and they were different than the way the industry owned artists and creators. They exceeded that, and they also were successful as artists but they reaped the benefits as owners. I’m just trying to take my craft to the next level, be as big as I can be but remain in control of the ownership and the equity, to some degree.

MAS – You got a good role model in Bryan Williams, The Birdman. If you can live up to that role-model…

Nipsey Hussle – Yeah, it’s not just Bird though; he’s one of the dudes I respect. I respect TIP. I respect and even Ludacris. They came in and got a joint venture for DTP. I’m looking at it from the perspective of a shrewd businessman. This is a billion-dollar industry you know? I don’t think we just walk through it as just happy-go-lucky artists. I think we should be concerned about where income is generated and what our true assets are.

MAS – You said it yourself, you have been in the game for some time now. You have seen some good things and some bad things. I know you’ve had your troubles with labels, just like everybody else has. With your overall, different level of business acumen, what do you think is the number 1 problem facing artists, like yourself, from being able to take that next step? If you could change something in the game, what would it be?

Nipsey Hussle – I think that I would try to integrate the systems a little bit more. I think that is one of the main things that plague major labels and big operations. Systems become separated; marketing doesn’t speak to A&R, A&R doesn’t speak to executives, executives don’t speak to business affairs, business affairs don’t speak to radio. And not necessarily only speak, but work hand in hand and mobilize everybody under the same philosophy.

That’s the advantage that small companies have; the photographer, the designer, the head of design, the brand manager, the videographer, the tour manager, the engineer, the executive branch down to the legal, everybody is 100% on the same philosophy and business understanding. This is the goal, this is what we are doing, and it’s more focused and singular. It helps everybody, artists, and the actual companies. It takes the actual process to the next level. We go off of processes of creating albums on a mainstream level. You know just evolve that process a little bit.

MAS – On the east coast, North Carolina specifically, people know Nipsey Hussle. They know you based off of some of the work you’ve done. I want to give them a little background about you. I want them to learn who you are.

The name you have chosen to perform under, Nipsey Hussle, is obviously a play on the name of the late comedian, poet and entertainer Nipsey Russell. A lot of guys in Hip Hop draw from elements of society that have a lot of negativity. We mentioned Rick Ross earlier, his namesake Ricky Ross is not known as the best guy in society. What made you decide to link yourself to someone like Nipsey Russell?

Nipsey Hussle – Originally, I just liked how it sounded. I wasn’t even educated on Nipsey Russell. It was something that one of my homeboys threw at me being playful and I liked how it sounded. I invited the Hussle part naturally, with how I grew up. The Nipsey part, come to find out, it was just a play-off of Nipsey Russell. I did do my research on him and see that he is just a lovable person; a comedian, a poet, an actor, someone that was respected. People loved to hear him; he was a fun person, somebody that did stand-up and TV shows and was just a character of love.

Originally what drew me to the name was; it rang, it sounded good. I’m a person that, I trust my instincts. When I hear something or see something I like, I don’t question it I just roll with it a lot of times. That was one of the instances of me expressing that part of my personality. I just liked how it sounded and I stuck with it.

MAS – To talk about your style and upcoming album, when you were just getting into the game, who did you look to as a guide for how you wanted to perform? Who did you draw from stylistically to help create your personal lyrical style?

Nipsey Hussle – I grew up in the 90s, I was born in 85, so I grew up in the 90s. So, you know, a cumulative collection of hip hop is where I derive my style from, everything dope. Up until 2006-07, when I ended up coming into the game. Once I got in the game, I stopped drawing and I stopped letting other artists influence me. I was at a level where I had to influence and I had to lead.

Just a collective of hip hop; everything from Snoop, Slick Rick, Jay, and even the new stuff. The dudes that came out with me I was influenced by their style. It was dope to see their take on what we grew up on. I’m sure I influenced a lot of them myself, you know. It’s just the collective of hip hop.

Urban creativity is what I was inspired by. People that came from places similar to where I came from that were also creative and successful at being creative. I looked at their story; I looked at the type of music perspective that they offered. I decided I want to evolve that, you know. I wanted to add to the conversation of urban creativity.

MAS – Of your mixtapes/albums, I have listened to Crenshaw and I am working on The Marathon and The Marathon Continues. From what I have heard so far, your lyrics carry a tone positivity and being lifted out of struggles or problems. Normally when we think of artists that have, or claim, any affiliations their lyrics are attached to drugs and violence exclusively. What has led you to go a different way with your lyrics while still being devoted to, and repping, the 60’s?

Nipsey Hussle – I think it is just refreshing to me bro.  I think that one thing I learned about music; “the closer to an artist you are, the better the music comes off.” Recognizing that makes artists probe themselves and really focus on who they are, try to get to the core of what makes them who they are. Once I went down that path I started to see that I’m a believer, I have faith, I believe. I’m a motivator. I’m a person that, I don’t accept, “you can’t”. I don’t believe that. I think that there is a difference between everything; the people that believe they can and people that believe they can’t. I think, if I can offer anything to the world, it would be that understanding. There is nothing that you can’t do; it is all about what you can convince yourself to believe in.

As humans we have a lot of power that we don’t necessarily tap into or that we are not necessarily conscious of or aware of. Or, that we sometimes use our power in a negative direction, in a negative way we create unflattering circumstances in our life. But, it’s just easier to expend energy to create positive circumstances. I believe that in my core and I live by that. So, through my music, if you were to go into the core of what my message is, it would be a law of attraction or mind over matter. Faith in your thoughts, that’s what I am really trying to get across.

I came from Crenshaw and Slauson, I came from 60th street. I grew up in the environment and in the culture of gangbanging. So, naturally, my conversation is going to start there. When it came time to really present myself, and present the person and the spirit that’s at the core of this person in this flesh. That’s what it is and that’s what I would like my message to represent; positivity, evolution, and forward progress.

MAS – I know calling out people by name can be more trouble than it is worth, so I’m not going to do it and I’m not asking you to do any of that either. But when you are described, you are often portrayed as a return to the glory days of rap. Back to when lyrics had edge and meant something. What do you think has happened to Hip-Hop and Rap? How did we get to this point where the guys getting air play are so slack and not really putting in the effort they should. They don’t have the talent or skill? How did we get to this point?

Nipsey Hussle – If you look at the history of Hip Hop, it goes in cycles just like everything else. We just came out of a real serious era before our generation came of age and became physical, before the Nipsey Hussles started popping up and the other artists from our generation that came around when I came in. You had seriousness; it was 50 Cent, it was G-Unit, it was Game, there was Street, everything, it was Young Buck. I think that, out of that, the people kind of got that story. They were like, “alright, we get that.”

Not to say that, if somebody from these environments or that lifestyle contributes something true to Hip Hop that it’s not going to connect. I still believe that’s not. I just think overall, collectively, the cultural message is about love, there are messages about free-spirited carelessness, and there are messages about partying. These are all things that happened in real-life.

For someone that is in lover lyrics or serious content, that might not be your cup of tea. But at the same time there is a level of, it’s necessary, to a degree. And also, it’s a form of evolution. It takes us out of the era that we were just in the thick of and brings us somewhere else.

I always think that being a street artist, and an artist that comes from the streets, the condition that we speak to never changes bro. It’s our place, it’s always a struggle, and it’s always the ambition to do better in the streets.  Street artists are going to be good at all times, but I think that the production might have changed a little bit. The angles artists take change a little but because of the wave of new age “emo rappers” or pop style stuff that’s working. It just changed the way street artists do what they are doing a little bit. It may influence the street artist to get with a different producer or be a little more melodic or come with a different cadence with their flow. As long as people are telling their truth and being honest about their experience, there is no one type of rap that is better than the other. It’s just cups of tea.

Me personally, I’m going to listen to the motivation music. I’m going to listen to the Jada, Jeezy. I’m going to listen to the… When you hop in your Benz and your leather smelling brand new, the song you want to hear when you do that. I want to listen to the songs that motivate you to reach for more and do better, that is “my cup of tea.” I can’t knock the party rappers; I can’t knock people that’s putting records in the club every week and talking about doing drugs and partying. As long as that is what their lifestyle is, and they are true to that, it’s all taste, it is all “eye of the beholder” type stuff.

MAS – In the coming weeks and months you are going to be releasing your next album Victory Lap, who all can we expect to hear featured on the album, producers and such?

Nipsey Hussle – As of now, we are so much in a record mode I don’t want to start leaking too much info yet. I want the story to be hot when the album date gets set. This is my full focus, is Victory Lap. It’s a lot of people that I have been working with; it’s a couple of people that I haven’t worked with before that came in on the project, producer wise.

Coming Soon: Movies In Theatres This Week

Posted: January 27, 2014 by MichaelSmithNC in All, Movies, Trailers
Tags: , ,

That Awkward Moment

Labor Day

Joan Rivers – DPAC

Posted: January 23, 2014 by MichaelSmithNC in All, Comedy, Stand-Up
Tags: , ,
Outrageous Stand-up with Host of “Fashion Police”

Joan Rivers

Durham Performing Arts Center
November 8, 2014

Internationally renowned comedienne, Emmy-award-winning television talk-show host, Tony-award-nominated actress, and bestselling author Joan Rivers returns to DPAC on Saturday, November 8, 2014. Joan’s first DPAC appearance in September 2012 sold out, so don’t miss your chance to attend this intimate evening of outrageous stand-up with Joan Rivers.


Online at

DPAC Ticket Center: 919.680.2787, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC / Ticketmaster Charge by phone at 800.745.3000

An entertainment legend of unparalleled talent, Joan was the first woman to break the glass ceiling of Late Night Television. After she was chosen to be the only permanent guest host on The Tonight Show for 3 years, she then went on to become the first woman ever to host her own late night talk show – The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers on the Fox Network.

After creating and hosting Live from the Red Carpet for the E! Network (1996-2004), Joan returned to anchor their popular and successful franchise Fashion Police, hosting both its hour-long weekly broadcasts and its awards-season specials. From hot new trends to red-carpet risks, Joan hilariously takes viewers through a recap of the week’s celebrity fashion and ultimately decides who sizzled and who fizzled.

Joan also dominates the world of reality television with her daughter, Melissa Rivers, in their weekly hit series on WEtv, Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best?. This inimitable duo addresses the question that has plagued daughters since the beginning of time: Does mother really know best?

Joan is also a vastly accomplished author, and her 11th book, I Hate Everyone.…Starting With Me, was published by the Penguin Group in June 2012. It instantly became a New York Times Bestseller. Prior to that, she wrote the other bestselling titles, Men Are Stupid and They Like Big Boobs: A Woman’s Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery and Murder at the Academy Awards: A Red Carpet Murder Mystery, both published by Simon & Schuster.

In 2012, Joan recorded her live concert performance at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, Illinois for a comedy special entitled Don’t Start with Me, which premiered on Showtime in November and was released on DVD and iTunes in January 2013.

Despite being constantly in motion, Joan continues to work tirelessly on behalf of charities that are close to her heart: God’s Love We Deliver, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Guide Dogs for the Blind. She also dedicates her time to the National Osteoporosis Foundation and Wounded Warriors, among other remarkable organizations.



It’s never easy to allow yourself to fall in love, and it is even more difficult to allow yourself to let go of a past love.

The tour of the 8 time Tony Award winning show Once, directed by JohnTiffany, stopped at the Durham Performing Arts Center for a series of 8 shows from January 21st through 26th. The music, script, movements, and the unique addition of live instrumentation combine to form the standing ovation worthy show.

Through the beautiful and complex music and songs of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, Once becomes a beautiful love story created with an entire audience watching.  True inner turmoil, of a love lost, is clearly audible through the gut-wrenching performance of Stuart Ward. His pain is balanced by the compassion and unrelenting support as performed beautifully by Dani de Waal.

(Think pain of The Wedding Singer in the tune of Rent with the hairstyles of Spring Awakening, with the box set of Billy Elliot, and chorus involvement of Chicago.)   

The words of Enda Walsh, coupled with the performances by the amazing cast, bring to life what we all have heard, have said, and remember from friends, family, and ones we have fallen in love with. The Irish brogue, used by the majority of the cast, was beautiful to listen to. Against the norm, their use of the accent remained constant and I found it truly fascinating and awe-inspiring that all the actors were able to maintain their own individual accents even as they transitioned from spoken word to song. However, I will admit I struggled as I adjusted to the halted speech pattern of Girl, who is a young woman from the Czech Republic.

The strong kinetic chemistry between Stuart (Guy) and Dani (Girl) made it easy to hope for the growing relationship of love, against the backdrop of recording an album, that could develop over just a matter of days.

(Cue Romeo and Juliet’s whirlwind romance)

The phenomenal comedic timing of Matt DeAngelis (Svec) left us wanting “more soul and less pants.”

The interpretive movements from Steven Hoggett are a little odd, but I suppose they do illustrate the emotional struggles that Guy and Girl are experiencing. As someone who is more familiar with the traditional style of dance in Broadway productions, this also took some time to adjust to.

The one element of this show that makes it truly unique is in the way the shows utilizes live instrumentation. All Broadway worthy productions make good use of live music, but Once is one of the very few that incorporates the instrumentation into the actual stage performance. Such intimate moments of relationships, of family struggle, heartbreak, and triumph are all performed while playing instruments. During the parts of the show where the characters are listening to “Pre-Recorded” music, via radio or headphones, I found myself searching the stage for the one playing the actual instrument. This dynamic was something that I found to be truly creative and impressive.

To be a triple threat on Broadway is supposedly difficult, but some say it is actually easy to find. You just have to look at any restaurant wait staff in New York City. But, try looking for an actor who can; sing, act, dance, and play an instrument at the same time. What is even more difficult, finding that actor / singer / dancer / instrumentalist and having an entire creative team agree on it. This adds to quality of talent that makes up the cast.

(I do wish I could have been a fly on the wall during rehearsals because the bloopers would have been interesting.) 

Although the set appears minimal, with a simple bar and walls with antiqued mirrors, we are easily transported from location to location with beautifully choreographed set transitions. Phenomenal transitions between scenes were heightened with fast set changes, cool set pieces, musical distractions, and subtle light changes. In stark contrast to other large spectacular productions on Broadway, Once uses eloquent words to draw and keep the audience from looking away instead of flashy special effects.

There was one “Special Effect” that was used that I did find interesting. The Czech family of Girl spoke in English, but creative team also chose to project the Slavic translations behind the bar. It was interesting to “see” the translations of the Czech family on the wall of the bar, in a reverse subtitle kind of way. Not only were we visually stimulated by the images of the foreign words flashing on the wall, but we also had fun trying to figure out which words went with each spoken word.

I have never before been influenced so much by lighting in a show as I was in this one. Subtle changes created a visual cue, dictating the mood that matched the scripted words.  While overlooking the city, sparkling lights appear forming the city skyline of Dublin, Ireland.

(I have no clue where those tiny little light bulbs were located, but they appear and disappeared without a trace. After they were first used, I searched for those things for the rest of the show!)

The costume design was a little awkward due to the undefined time period or season in which the show takes place. It wasn’t until the nauseating twerking that I figured it was present day, either that or the girl had a serious medical problem onstage.

The sound technician had the volume a tad low at times. I’m assuming the sound designer was trying to create a down-trodden mood to compliment the story. Maybe, had it not been the cold and flu season with many audience members struggling to unwrap cough drops at every single “down-trodden” moment, it would have been more effective.

If you can, I encourage you to arrive early to this performance and become part of the bar patrons. You are given the opportunity to walk across the stage, order a drink from the bartender, and stand next to the chorus/band as they present a spirited pre-show. Each performer is highlighted and appears to be having the time of their life dancing, singing, and enjoy the intimate setting with patrons.

I believe we all can relate to musicals, and we all depend on the emotional places that music and song lyrics can take us. In a recent conversation I had with Matt DeAngelis (Svec) he stated that “Once was not a musical, but a play with music.” I thought he was delusional, because how can the show be billed as a Tony Award Winning Musical and not be a musical. Damn it, he was right.