Making a Musical: “Once” at Broadway Rose Theatre Company

What was interesting about “Once” is that it
presents sort of a unique challenge in the casting of the play. Everyone on stage is playing an instrument—all of the actors play some sort of musical
role. One of the decisions I made really early on was that the cast was just
gonna be on stage the entire time so essentially they would be the on-stage
orchestra; it presents a really unique challenge in the casting. [music continues] I’ve been in shows before where I’ve
played the music at the same time but not like this. [music continues] It’s taxing my old man
brain (laughs) is what it’s doing. [music continues] I have never played a musical instrument
before—I played tuba in high school. [music continues] Three months ago I started learning how
to play guitar. [music continues] And so, in some cases, it made a lot of sense to find an actor who
really fit the role of, let’s say a Czechoslovakian mother, and then find
somebody who we felt like might be capable of learning the accordion in a
couple of months. And so, for example, Kymberli Colbourne who plays Baruska, did that. She came in, demonstrated a certain amount of musical ability on several
instruments, and is clearly a really talented actor and singer and then we
thought, okay this is somebody who we trust to take this new instrument and
master it to the point that they could play it in the show. [music continues] Music is really where I feel most at
home but I also have spent a lot of my life dancing and, um, the acting is kind of
this other element of myself artistically that I have always wanted
to develop and explore more so this show has been a really awesome opportunity to
do that. [music continues] And so there’s varying levels of expertise in the cast, and my job, as the
director, and I think Eric’s job as the music director, was to kind of bring
everyone to the same play. So it felt like everybody was equally talented at
all things. That’s the great challenge of the piece and of casting the piece. [music continues]

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