In 2014, Melbourne Theatre Company and John Frost co-produced the musical Once. It was a charming production, directed by John Tiffany, but it didn’t tour. Now Sydney finally has a chance to see the wistful, beguiling little show in a new production staged by Darlinghurst Theatre Company – and truth be told the intimacy of the small-scale, 200-seat Eternity Playhouse suits it perfectly.

The musical is based on John Carney’s 2007 low-budget film, a romantic musical drama starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová as struggling musicians in Dublin, which quickly gathered a cult following. Hansard and Irglová also wrote the songs (and fell in love while filming, though they later separated), winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song for their gentle indie folk number Falling Slowly.

Stefanie Caccamo and Toby Francis in Once. Photograph © Robert Catto

With a book by Enda Walsh, the musical started life Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop in December 2011 then transferred to Broadway the following year, winning eight Tony Awards including Best Musical. The stage show retains the melancholic, understated feel of the movie but it has enough added drama and joyous bursts of energy...