Crafting the stage version of “Once” felt like a holiday for prolific Tony Award-winning Irish playwright Enda Walsh.
“Truthfully, it was refreshing to take a break from myself to work on something romantic and sweet,” says Walsh, known for dark, haunting works like “Misterman” and “Penelope.”
He did a good job, too. The musical, which opens at the Curran Theatre this week, won eight Tony Awards.
The challenge for the production’s creative team, including musical supervisor Martin Lowe, was to capture the right nuances as they tinkered with the tender story from the 2007 hit movie starring Glenn Hansard and Markéta Irglová.
For one thing, the show represented a change of pace for director John Tiffany and choreographer Steven Hoggett, whose extraordinary piece about the Iraq war “Black Watch,” Walsh says, “was really hard to look at.”
He adds, “It was a very weird mix having the four of us do it, to be honest. But when we were all making this, we all wanted to make it as beautiful and heartfelt as we could.”
The plot of the stage version mirrors that of the film: a young woman takes an interest in the haunting love songs of a beleaguered Dublin street musician and their subsequent creative partnership alters their lives.
Onstage, actor-musicians play their own instruments, to excellent effect: “It’s very naked and audiences are responding to that,” says Walsh. He adds, “What theater does great, when it’s done properly, is that it really allows the audience time and to meditate and to be in it. That sort of takes some confidence — to sort of strip it back and push all the right buttons.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes July 13
Tickets: $40 to $115
Contact: (888) 746 1799, www.shnsf.com