The Broadway musical based on the low-budget indie film “Once” is playing in multiple productions around the world these days, but the touring company in Los Angeles got something that no other “Once” could boast on Friday night: a curtain-call appearance and song from Glen Hansard, who wrote the show’s songs and starred in the 2006 John Carney movie that unexpectedly turned into an Oscar-winning, Broadway-show-spawning, Tony-winning hit.
Hansard, who was in Los Angeles to play the Hollywood Bowl before heading to New York and then France to record his next album, came to the Pantages Theater on Friday, marking the first time he’d seen any of the touring companies of “Once.”
(He’s seen the Broadway production, he told TheWrap, “seven or eight times,” and he loved that production’s star, Steve Kazee, who won one of the show’s eight Tony Awards.)
He dropped by a pre-show reception sponsored by Fox Searchlight, which released the film and is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and Fox Home Entertainment, which is putting the film out on Blu-Ray for the first time this month. And then at the end of the night, actor Stuart Ward, who plays Hansard’s role in the production, brought out the singer to a standing ovation and a lengthy version of the Brendan Behan song “The Auld Triangle,” an Irish staple Hansard has occasionally used in the past to end his shows.
Hansard said he’s stayed away from “Once” in recent years – not because he dislikes the show, but to give it space and get on with his own career, which has recently included solo albums rather than collaborations with his “Once” co-star Marketa Irglova.
And while he hates the airbrushed cover of the new Blu-Ray edition, which is an Amazon exclusive, that’s no surprise: He and Irglova hated the alterations that were made to the original photo on the “Once” movie poster, too. “It was a long time ago,” he said with a laugh. “I have to let it go.”
“The Auld Triangle,” incidentally, was also featured in last year’s Coen brothers movie “Inside Llewyn Davis.” And it’s not the only connection between “Once” and “Llewyn Davis”: The musical begins with an informal onstage jam session that slowly morphs into the show – and that session always begins with the old British tune “Leaving of Liverpool,” which Bob Dylan adapted into “Farewell,” a key song in the Coens’ movie.