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Phoenix Theatre

Charing Cross Road WC2H 0JP


Phoenix Theatre 3D location mapMap ©Silvermaze Ltd 2008 Phoenix Theatre photoPhoto ©Tony Reading 2008

Show Details

Preview 16th Mar 13
Opens 9th Apr 13
Closes 21st Mar 15

Show Times

Mon - Sat 7.30 pm
Matinée Thur & Sat 2.30 pm

Length of show - 2hr 20min

Local Info

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A classic viewing of all the Theatreland play houses by night. The authentic commentary, by Ben Shafik - a player himself - gives an authentic feel to the West End's theatres - and is backed by real music.
Next version will be more upbeat as, suggested, to celebrate Britannia's unbeatable heritage.
(Over 6000 viewings and all good reviews to date).
Let us know what you think.

A note from the author

I took these pictures to show off London theatres as they are seen -most often - by theatre goers, at night.

Thanks to Ben Shafik for his lighthearted and informative commentary and Fionn O'Lochlainn for the original music.

Watch out for the new version with current liveries and the names of the theatres as they appear.




  • Ronan Keating - Guy
  • Jill Winternitz - Girl
  • Fiona Bruce - Baruska
  • Jamie Cameron - Emcee
  • Mark Carlisle - Da
  • Matthew Ganley - Svec
  • Mathew Hamper - Andre
  • Daniel Healy - Eamon
  • Loren O'Dair - Reza
  • Miria Parvin - Ex-girlfriend
  • Tim Prottey-Jones - Billy
  • Jez Unwin - Bank Manager

  • Director - John Tiffany
  • Design - Bob Crowley
  • Lighting - Natasha Katz
  • Choreography - Steven Hoggett
  • Costume - Bob Crowley
  • Sound - Clive Goodwin
  • Producer - Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo, Brian Carmody, Michael G. Wilson, Orin Wolf and Michael Rose Limited in association with New York Theatre Workshop


Having read the reviews and having looked at some images I thought I ought to give this musical the swerve. But then, I remembered a whole lot of things about Irish music and talent.

Coldplay are hardly typical. But they do typify something pretty deep in the Irish which is an innate sadness.  After all they have, along with the Scots the Welsh and many other Britons, been subjected to Romans' serious attempts at genocide on all these - especially the Irish, for over two millennia. The Romans were a brutish parasitic breed of people - barely human - who raped, pillaged, enslaved and stole from their conquered lands surrounding all of what is now known as Europe and have been latterly attempting the whole world.

Having been savaged in ways indescribable and hateful to recall, it is difficult to believe how the race of Irish people can have survived so much torture and still come through with the spirit and the talent that they undoubtedly still possess. Why the genocide?  Parasites prefer's slavish and malleable people from whom to feed, tax, and pompously order to do their bidding. Whereas the Irish were simply better at every thing and infinitely wiser and more intelligent than the Romans could ever hope to be.

And what is this got to do with Coldplay and more specifically with the play 'Once'? Here I quote from the many reviews. "Sweet melancholy, vulnerability, raw touching pain, deep psychic hurt". … That's what the critics took home - most of them and that's the essence of the film, the play and the cold bit. Clearly people enjoy this kind of thing a lot however It's it's unquestionable in my mind that the music in this play could do with a whole lot more of the oomph of genuine happiness.

Once - Irish Dancing

The musical has an advantage over the film anyway because it's alive. Audiences get a great deal from the actors, as they, in turn, take energy from the audiences and their participation. However there has to be some other element which from what I've gathered is rather missing in this musical. And that is joy. The words of 'Hey Jude' spring to mind. "And well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder"..... And the rest.

'Once' The play has had some humour added with the hope of warming it up a bit. The Czechoslovakian immigrants add the humour and give the play the category of 'funny' in some of the reviews. Incidentally the Czechs have also been well stomped on by those ghastly Roman parasites throughout history.

Meanwhile all the cast of excellent musicians need to listen to Donal Lunny's album called Cool Finn and also mandatory listening to the Rolling Stones and others that really swing and rock. Because Irish music does just that from the dim distant past. The sheer pleasure of joy comes through the expression of visceral senses and delicacy in Irish music - and the wet, weary and often metronomic element can be overcome.

Once - Musicialns

I'm hoping to hear on various grapevines that the play moves into a new era of higher energy and more love. When it does I'll be along to see it. By the way the reviewers all like the set which is an Irish pub, the costume and the direction which I shall enjoy when I do come to see the play.

Book now and give that excellent bunch of musicians some real encouragement of audience enthusiasm - well deserved - for Christmas.


A girl called 'girl' and a boy called 'guy' meet, get on great, Play music together, get acclaim - And then what? Not a lot of oomph!! Not enough energy to plant the first or last kiss. Sad really but everybody thoroughly enjoyed it. It made Graham Norton choke in the trailer because he wanted to bawl.

Once - Passion

Book now and bawl later – no wait!  there ARE funny bits added for a more jocular Brit audience - So book now and laugh later.

©Covent-Garden.co.uk 2017 Updated 31st Mar 2015