To Declan, Zrinka, Valda, Jamie, Phoebe, Ryan, Allison, David, Aidan, Katrina, Gareth, Michael, Tim, Jos, Flora, Christina, Alex, Jez, Gabriel, Robbie, Ceyda, Emily, Rosanna and Honey.
It's hard to believe that a whole year has flown past since you all arrived in the West End as part of one of the most anticipated imports from across the Pond that we have had in years. And now, as your time at this beautiful show comes to an end, I just wanted to show you how much I, as well as thousands upon thousands of fans that you have gained over this year, appreciate everything you have achieved at the Phoenix Theatre.
When I heard ONCE was going to be coming to London, I was absolutely overjoyed! Having loved theatre since I was very young - but only renewing my love for it in 2009/10, this was the first time I had felt so much joy about a show opening. The original Broadway cast soundtrack had been a major part of my CD collection for many years. The simplistic beauty of every single track melted my heart on the very first listen - and continues to do so to this day! But despite my love for the soundtrack - I had never seen the film, so I had no visual representations of what these characters were meant to be like.
Fast forward to a cold, wet evening in April 2013. It was your second Press Night and with ticket in hand, I headed for my first of many visits to the Phoenix Theatre. The atmosphere was still electric after the resounding success of the previous Press Night and as I headed on stage for a drink and to watch your amazing pre-show performance first hand, I knew I was in for a treat.
2 hours, 30 minutes (or so) later, ONCE (and all of you) had stolen my heart.
I went on to visit your enchanting show 9 times over the year, and although I know that may not sound like alot in comparison with some, I have never seen a single show this many times in such a short space of a time - and believe me, if I didn't live so far away from the Phoenix, it would have been much more!
People would ask me why I kept coming back so many times - and my answer was the same every time. A story that is so beautifully simple, that it's simply beautiful. Put that together with one of the strongest, most dynamic and ridiculously talented ensembles I have EVER seen (bar none), then how could people not come back again and again?
Every single one of you is not only an amazing actor or actress, but a ridiculously talented musician. There is not one weak link amongst you. The dynamic nature and unity you have when you are all on stage is magical. And when I heard Declan, in a recent tweet, describe you all as a BAND, number 1 - I couldn't agree more, and number 2 - this yet again shows what a wealth of talent you all possess!
I also think it says so much about the strength of a cast that when an Understudy is on, you would not know they weren't part of the regular main cast - and this is the case with ONCE. I didn't get to see all of the Understudies - but there is no doubt in my mind you were all just as phenomenal as each other.
My final visit to you all was on 8th February 2013 (as sadly I am unable to attend your final day) - and I still remember the exact moment during that show when it hit me that I would not have the honour of seeing you all perform live together again (it was during GOLD) and it broke my heart. But the memories (and the goosebumps) I will take from that show, as well as all of my visits will stay with me forever.
For all the kindness you have shown me when I have met so many of you at the Stage Door, for the laughs, for the tears, for the joy, for the passion - and for the music - I can only thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Whatever the future may hold for you - whether it be in the East End of London, the National Theatre, Shakespeare or continuing your ONCE journey, I wish you so much love, luck, happiness and blessings. You will all be so missed - the new cast certainly have HUGE shoes to fill!!!
Signing off for now
Blue Eyed Girl Xxx