When I arrived in the auditorium of The New Wolsey Theatre last night, I could’ve easily mistaken it for a ‘lock in’ in a small Dublin hostelry… an assorted bunch of around 16 musicians were in full swing – playing fiddles, guitars, accordions – and in full voice too – singing and playing traditional Irish songs with real heart and passion, and a whole lot of fun!

I’d come to see ‘Once’ – a ‘boy meets girl’ tale of friendships, struggles, life, love and music – all set in the wonderful city of Dublin, and with a soundtrack of beautiful ballads, pitch perfect harmonies and foot stomping reels.

The show hadn’t actually started, but the enormously talented cast were out on stage warming us up on a chilly February evening, and setting the scene for two hours of one of the most enchanting shows I’ve ever seen.

Once is a book written by Enda Walsh which has been wonderfully adapted for the stage, and tells the story of two somewhat lost souls – a Dublin busker (known as ‘Guy’ – and who also works in his dad’s Hoover repair shop) and a Czech musician (known as ‘Girl’) who meet unexpectedly and form a beautiful friendship based around their love of music and their dreams of a brighter future.

Daniel Healy and Emma Lucia are absolutely outstanding in the lead roles, and the supporting cast of super talented musicians/singers/actors really brought the stage to life and had the audience clapping, reeling, foot stomping and laughing throughout the evening. A special mention also for Ellen Chivers who played a fabulous feisty Reza as the ballsy friend who eats men for breakfast (but has a heart of gold) and Susannah Van Den Burg who played Baruska (mother of Girl) with real aplomb (she’d also graced the stage of TNW before as the wicked stepmother, Rubella De Zees, in Cinderella) and Lloyd Gorman who played Svec – a crazy Czech friend and housemate of Girl with a penchant for strong coffee and playing the drums in his pants!

I really can’t speak highly enough of the sheer weight of talent on the stage last night… all of whom received a standing ovation from the audience which was so rightly deserved. ‘Once’ seen, but never forgotten, this fantastic stage production at The New Wolsey theatre was nothing short of an absolute craic(er)!

Once runs at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich until Saturday 29th February, before continuing on a tour. Tickets and more information available wolseytheatre.co.uk / oncethemusicalonstage.com.