Steve Kazee and Cristin Militoi leaving ‘Once’ on March 25

Steve Kazee and Cristin Militoi in Once.

Steve Kazee and Cristin Militoi in Once.

If a musical has been around long enough, it’s a natural part of theatre to see new performers enter the production in the leading roles and after a strong year, the Tony Award winning musical Once will debut fresh faces as Guy and Girl when Tony Award-winning actor Steve Kazee and Tony nominee Cristin Militoi exit the show on March 25.

Will Connelly (Andrej), and Elizabeth A. Davis (Réza) are also scheduled to depart on the same day.

To say that the new cast members Ben Hope, Laura Dreyfuss (Girl), Carlos Valdes (Andrej), and Claire Wellin (Réza) have big shoes to fill is nothing short of a massive understatement.

Once took Broadway by storm last year, receiving rave reviews from the New York Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, among many others. It continued with its success by winning eight Tony awards, including Best Musical, and Best Leading Actor for star Steve Kazee, and Cristin Milioti received a Tony nomination.

These nameless characters, referred to only as “Guy” and “Girl”, take the audience on a journey and incorporate Broadway talents with musicians. The musical is intimate, mesmerizing.

The two main characters fall in love over a shared love of music. What many people seem to love about this show is not only the fact that it is a beautiful love story but also how the writers are able to include musical instruments, and also made it essentially each actor played, rather than with help from the orchestra. This show simply radiates talent from every angle.

But, let’s face it, many Broadway fans have their favorite performers, and as a rule, don’t like to see them leave their roles.

While it’s possible the Broadway community will welcome these new actors into the roles full time with open arms, especially since Hope has been filling in for Kazee as Guy for the last month, it’s also possible that, unfortunately, the story and new way of incorporating music can only take it so far without the names that have become famous along with the show.

Unlike Book of Mormon, which continues to sell out, despite two leading male changes, Once has been doing shaky in grosses since the beginning of the year even with the original actors. Replacing four leading characters at once will either be great and bring fresh talent into the Bernard Jacobs Theatre or will doom it to close much like Evita earlier this year.

At this point, the show could go either way when the four actors leave. Hope has a bit of an advantage, because he has been on for Kazee for a month, therefore he is a well known replacement for Kazee, the star that many people flock to the theatre to see. On the other hand, it is possible that it won’t matter, and the fact that the callboard displaying two different names for Guy and Girl will have a bigger effect than it should.

Do you think Once will thrive with these new cast changes? Let me know in comments!

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2 Responses

  1. I can’t believe that these two are leaving right before I see the show, but at least I’ll get to see the new cast? Fingers crossed that they are just as fabulous.

    • I saw Ben Hope understudy Guy and he was awesome! I’m sure the rest will be great too!