Caught a matinée performance of "Once" recently on Broadway, the most Tony-nominated show of 2012, with its acoustic guitar-heavy score, set, and book. What a great show! Think Irish Sesiun with a contemporary edge. Even as the audience files in for the show, the actors - all musicians - are on stage jamming on acoustic guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, cello, and piano. The simple set is a large open space with a bar and the audience is encouraged to come up and buy a drink before the show (and at intermission) and mingle on set. From then on we follow the story of a singer-songwriter-guitarist Guy in Dublin who meets a Girl who plays the piano and sings. She inspires him to give his music another chance, they make beautiful music together, but they have to deal with their respective unfinished relationships while it is clear they have fallen in love. The arrangements for guitar and piano are simple and effective, allowing for the full power of the lyrics to hit you like a ton of bricks with the raw emotions of love.
Special kudos to the sound crew, as the balancing of the wireless mic'ed voices and acoustic instruments is extremely well-done (sound designer Clive Goodwin, who workshopped the show at the ART here in Cambridge, has one of Once's 11 Tony Award nominations). The lead Guy of "Once" plays what looks like a well-worn Johnny Cash-model Martin D-35 guitar that rang out whether finger-picked or strummed. Indeed, the Martin guitar company has recently become the official guitar and guitar strings sponsor of "Once" (earlier promotional materials and video of the musical had Guy playing a well-worn black Takamine). Well played C.F. Martin and Co.
See my complete post and a youtube clip of the cast at http://acousticpickers.blogspot.com/2012/05/once.html