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'Once' comes to Cleveland, cast member Erica Swindell talks about the tour

CLEVELAND, OH - The story of two down-on-their-luck musicians who change each other’s lives will come to the Palace Theatre stage at PlayhouseSquare, in the musical “Once”, which comes to town for a limited engagement of November 12-24, 2013.

ONCE the musical comes to Cleveland
ONCE the musical comes to Cleveland
Joan Marcus
Once comes to Cleveland

The tale of “Once” began in 2007 as a charming, off-beat Irish film which opened to glowing reviews and quickly developed a fervent following. The piece eventually transformed into an 8-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical and the rest is history.

Touring with this traveling incarnation of the show is Texas native Erica Swindell, who graciously shared a bit with about life on the road with the show. Swindell, who was also part of the Broadway cast, feels lucky to be part of the “Once” touring experience. This will be the violinist/actor’s first trip to Cleveland, Ohio.

Kate Miller: So Erica - when you arrive in a new city, what are some of the first things you do?
Erica Swindell: The first thing that a lot of us do is get rid of our suitcases! Once we find our bearings we just try to get settled and see what’s around us in each city.

KM: Growing up in an arts-supportive family, did you always know you were going to make a living as a performer?
ES: I always thought that playing the violin was going to be what I would do with my life until I hit high school. I got into theater after school and I felt like I had never enjoyed the working process so much with anything else as I did with theater.

KM: Aside from the show, do you still actively play the violin?
ES: When I got into college I played with different bands. I also played on the street in New York City and actually made a lot of money doing that. It was after 9/11 and the spirit of the arts was just starting to come back to life in the city.

KM: How has your youth experience playing the violin and fiddle all over the state of Texas compared to your experience touring with “Once”?
ES: I will say there is something about this musical and how it combines how it being musician and actor. Playing music on stage is an incredible thing, but when you combine it with acting there’s so much in it for everybody.

KM: Your resume is full of fun things! Tell me about your stage combat experience.
ES: I have training with random weapons, space guns, swords, and weapons of the unusual variety. I can also roundhouse kick with the best of them!

KM: On the tour, you play Ex-Girlfriend, and also understudy Girl and Réza. You also understudied all of these roles on Broadway. How does your experience compare between the Broadway and touring productions?
ES: I had an incredible relationship with my Broadway cast, as we were like family. I was a bit nervous to go to the touring production because I was afraid that it wouldn’t be as tight of a group, but I found that these people came together like family, too. We are really lucky to have been cast so that our personalities would also match up.

KM: How is the tour different from the Broadway piece?
ES: For each production, the creative team lets individuals inform the work so that it is crafted around the people that they cast. New people bring their truth to the work, which layers the story.

KM: Why is “Once” special to you?
ES: Some of us talk about spreading the gospel for the show – it’s a message of love in so many different facets. It touches people who wouldn’t be familiar with theater normally, and audience members come away positively surprised about how it affects them.

KM: Why should Clevelanders come out to see “Once”?
ES: If you have a heart in your body, you should come and see “Once” because it will lift you up in ways you have forgotten about, and give each person a truly unique experience.

Tickets are on sale now for "Once", running November 12-24, 2013, and playing at PlayhouseSquare’s Palace Theatre. Tickets start at just $10 and are on sale now at, 216-241-6000 or the PlayhouseSquare Ticket Office. Groups of 15 or more call group sales at 216-640-8600.

For more information on "Once", visit the official website:

“Once” features the Academy Award-winning music and lyrics of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, a book by award-winning Irish playwright & screenwriter, Enda Walsh (Penelope, Hunger, The New Electric Ballroom), direction by the acclaimed Scottish director of Black Watch, John Tiffany, movement by Steven Hoggett (Black Watch, American Idiot) and music supervision and orchestrations by Martin Lowe (Mamma Mia!). The set and costume design are by five time Tony Award winner Bob Crowley (The Coast of Utopia, Mary Poppins), lighting design is by Tony winner Natasha Katz (Aida, The Coast of Utopia), and sound design is by Clive Goodwin.

Do you have a Cleveland performing arts story? Contact KATE MILLER at

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