If you’re expecting to hear a full orchestra playing all the songs in the musical “Once,” think again.

“Right of the bat, it’s really unconventional in that there’s no set orchestra, so the actors all play instruments and it’s all about live music,” said actor Jack Gerhard, who plays Guy, one of the lead roles.

That is just one of the many aspects of “Once” that makes it so different from typical musicals. The critically acclaimed show is coming to the Fox Theatre in Midtown for one night only, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. Its United States tour is coming to town as part of the Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta series.

“I think just like Jack said, it’s all actors/musicians, and that’s really unusual and it’s one of the few (musicals) to do that on a big scale,” said actress Mariah Lotz, who plays Guy’s love interest, Girl. “The show opens with a jam session of Irish and Czech Republic folk songs. There’s an open bar where the audience can be on the stage.

“That theme continues and it draws people in. It touches a lot of visceral human truths. It’s a love story but it’s also so much more than that. It deals with people in adult situations. Things in life don’t always go as planned. Things get in the way and obligations come up. It’s about pursuing your dreams and living your life despite that.”

“Once” is about a Dublin, Ireland, street musician who is about to give up on his dream of becoming a professional performer when a woman takes a sudden interest in his love songs, changing both of their lives in the process.

“Once” is a musical based on the 2007 film by the same name, which won an Oscar for Best Original Song (“Falling Slowly”).

Its musical version debuted off Broadway in 2011 and on Broadway the following year. “Once” won a whopping eight Tony Awards in 2012, including Best Actor in a Musical (Steve Kazee), Best Director in a Musical (John Tiffany) and Best Musical, and captured a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

Both actors said they are looking forward to performing at the Fox for the first time.

“I am so excited, especially because the Fox is such a historic theater,” Gerhard said. “There’s such a folk music and spiritual music tradition that comes out of the South. Even though this (musical features) Irish folk music, the same kind of musical feelings are there and across many different cultures. That is absolutely going to resonate with people down there. I think it’s going to be fantastic.”

Said Lotz, “I’m excited to get a taste of that culture, and also the theater looks really stunning. … This is a story that even though it’s set in Dublin, Ireland, it’s a story someone from any walk of life can take something away from. If you’ve ever been in love, you’ll relate to this story and it will tug at your heart.”

Lotz, a Seattle native, lives in New York when not on the tour, which started two months ago. She’s coming to Atlanta for the first time. Gerhard, who grew up in Cortland, New York, plans to move to the Big Apple when the tour ends in April. He has an aunt, uncle and cousins in Lawrenceville and visits them often.

“They’re coming to see the show and I’m really excited to be there,” Gerhard said. “I love Atlanta. I was actually down there for a week this past summer in July. We went to the High Museum of Art. … I’m very excited (about performing at the Fox). It looks gorgeous.”

Tickets start at $30 and are available by visiting www.foxtheatre.org/once, calling 1-855-285-8499 or going to the Fox box office (660 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta). Group orders of 10 or more may be placed by calling 404-881-2000.


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