ONCE at South Coast Repertory

Photo by Jordan Kubat

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Mounting the first regional production of a show that recently played on Broadway puts the creative team between a rock and a hard place: Is it better to do a new take on the material, or is it better to emulate the original production?

With Once, playing at the South Coast Rep through the end of the month, director Kent Nicholson decidedly opted for the latter route. Every element of the production, from the sets to the staging, choreography and costumes, is reminiscent of the off-Broadway, Broadway, and national tour productions, which were directed by John Tiffany. It’s not a bad thing — Tiffany’s direction was stunning, and part of why the show won the Tony for Best Musical in 2012 (Tiffany also won for Best Direction). But as strong as the production is (and it is quite strong), it feels like it never steps out of the shadow of its predecessor
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Now running through September 30