Saturday, 25 May 2024

Mendocino College presents Tony Award-winning musical ‘Once’

Julian Sterling (Guy) and Heidi Peterman (Girl) in the Mendocino College production of the musical Once. Photo by Scott Spears.

UKIAH, Calif. — The Mendocino College Theatre Arts Department will present the Tony Award-winning musical “Once” March 23 to April 2 in Mendocino College’s Center Theatre on the Ukiah Campus.

Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, “Once” tells the story of a guy who gives up on love and music, and a girl who inspires him to dream again. The show is based on the motion picture of the same title.

Set in Dublin, the musical is about the relationship between an Irish street musician/Hoover vacuum repairman whose heart stops in its tracks when he meets a Czech pianist with a vacuum needing repair.

It is a story of two people who share a moment in time that changes them forever, a moment that happened “once.” It is a powerful and moving celebration of humanity and music.

Performances will run for two weekends only.

Written by Enda Walsh and with music by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglová, the play features a multi-talented cast of performers who sing, dance , act and play musical instruments.

According to director Reid Edelman, “This beautiful production and astonishingly talented cast present a musical experience that will captivate your soul.”

The production is recommended for all audiences ages 13 and older.

With musical direction by Phillip Lenberg, original choreography by Eryn-Schon-Brunner, and vocal direction by Marilyn Simpson, the production will feature costumes and scenery created by students in Mendocino College’s CTE program in technical theatre under the direction of faculty and staff members Steve Decker, Kathy Dingman-Katz and David Wolf.

Voice and dialect coaching is by Alicia Bales, and theater arts alumna Rickie Emilie Farah is the show’s assistant director, and alumna Shianne Robertson is the assistant costume designer. Student Sarah Jansen is the production Stage Manager.

The talented cast features local musician and guitar instructor Julian Sterling in the leading role of “Guy,” and college Music major Heidi Peterman in the leading role of “Girl.”

The show also features theater students Dakota Laiwa-McKay and Gwendolen van Wyk in the supporting roles of Eamon and Reza. The cast also includes an impressive array of professional local musicians and music educators including Anthony Melville as Billy, Sam Kircher as the Bank Manager, Jean François Buy as Andrej, and college voice instructor Marilyn Simpson as the violinist.

The cast, a mix of students and community members, also includes Kay Spencer as Baruska, Joe Swearengin as Svec, Neil DiBernardo as Da.

Ensemble members also include Hannah Eddy, Shianne Robertson, Stacey Sheldon, Anita Stearns, Cora Schon-Brunner, and Amanda Tuttle.

Once will have a “pay what you wish preview” on Thursday, March 23.

Opening night is Friday March 24. Opening night will include a free gala reception starting one hour before the show. The performance on Saturday, March 25, benefits the Mendocino College Foundation and student scholarships. A free glass of wine is included with the ticket price for this performance.

Following the opening weekend, additional performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30; Friday, March 31; and Saturday, April 1. There will be a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 2.

Tickets cost $20 for general seating and $15 for students and seniors, and are available at the Mendocino Book Co., online at and at the door as available.

The performance on Thursday, March 30, is a special discount night, with all tickets costing only $10. Audiences are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

For information, call 707-468-3172 or visit

Please note regarding Mendocino College Covid Safety Policy: Proof of vaccination is no longer required to attend live performance events at Mendocino College. Masks are optional, but are strongly recommended.

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