Q&A with Julia Hoffmann, Music Director of Once

In December, we sat down with Julia Hoffman, the Music Director for Once, after local auditions wrapped up. She spoke about her past experiences in the show, including the National Tour, and why she is drawn to the show time and time again. 

Read to learn more about her special connection with Once, and catch her under the Dome as Music Director and Réza from March 2-10. Tickets can be found here. 

Tell me about yourself.

I’m Julia Hoffmann, I am the Music Director for Once and I play Réza. I’m an actor, musician, violinist, and fiddle player. I live in New York City, and I am from Philadelphia originally. I’ve been with Once since 2015.

I did the Broadway national tour of Once from 2015 to 2017. I was the Female Swing on that tour, so I covered the roles of Girl, Réza, and Ex-Girlfriend. That was an amazing experience. Regionally, I have done the show at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, where I played Ex-Girlfriend; Theater West End in Orlando, where I played Réza; and Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, where I played Réza and music directed. This will be my second time music directing the show. 

Tell me about your character.

I’m playing the character of Réza, who is a Czech immigrant living in Ireland. She lives in Dublin with her flatmates. She’s very feisty and fiery and she cares very deeply for the people in her life.

What is special about Once?

Once is based on a movie of the same name that features the artists Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who starred in the movie and wrote the music for it. What makes the musical really special is that we get to meet more characters and everybody in the show also plays an instrument, which is really exciting. The instruments help flesh out all the different characters, and add for a lot of humor and some really beautiful humanity in the show.  

I love this show, it’s really near and dear to me. This is the second time I have music directed Once. The first time I music directed, I was the first female-identifying music director of Once, which was a unique experience, and helped me understand a lot of the themes that run through this beautiful story. I’m so grateful to be here again and so excited to tell this story through a new lens, because every time I tell this story with different actors, it comes out differently, and I learn something new every time.  

Julia Hoffmann in Once at Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, California. Presented by Surflight Theatre. Photographer: Jason Niedle. Director: Steve Steiner. Choreographer: Paula Sloan. Music Director: Julia Hoffmann. 

What is the theme of Once?

One of the biggest themes in the show is this idea of feeling stuck, something I think everyone has experienced in their life. Once explores the ways we become unstuck through other people and through music.

What musical instruments appear in Once?

The musical features violin, fiddle, accordion, banjo, mandolin, cello, electric bass, piano, drums, guitar – you name it, it’s probably in the show.

How would you describe the style of music in Once?

The style of music in the show is Irish folk, so artists like Glen Hansard, Damian Rice, and Mumford & Sons are a good comparison to the music in the show.

What shows are similar to Once?

If you love Bright Star, Come From Away, or Peter and the Starcatcher, then you’ll love Once.  


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