in partnership
ONCE Tour Company © Joan Marcus

'Once' premieres tonight in Seattle with a local face

Once, the winner of 8 Tony awards, is premiering tonight at The Paramount tonight for a limited engagement from now until June 8. In the cast is Seattle native Ryan Link, whom we chatted with about the wild ride he is on, and what it's like to come home.

First and foremost, tell me about the wild ride that has been the last eight months of your life.

It's been crazy! We started in Providence in late September, and have been to 22 cities since then. I've been on the road for seven months now, and we spend about a week in each place, so it's a great way to see the country.

For those who don't know the basic story behind Once, how would you sum it up?

Once is about a guy and a girl in Dublin - the guy is an Irish street musician who is frustrated with his life and lack of progress, and he's about to give up on his dream of music. He meets this girl, a Czech immigrant, who has musical talent herself. She kind of picks him up and dusts him off.

What is cool about Once is that there are 12 actor-musicians on stage at any given time. We don't have an orchestra or band, we play all the instruments ourselves: guitars, mandolins, ukuleles you name it.

Who do you play?

I'm the emcee, part of the ensemble. And I run the open mic that the main characters come to later on in the play.

And, you are a Seattleite! Welcome home - where did you grow up around here?

I moved to Seattle when I was 6, so it's really all I can remember as home. I went to Lakeside High School, and the University of Washington, and I still have lots of friends and family here.

What's it going to be like for you to come and perform in your city?

The most exciting part is going to be performing at the Paramount, where I saw so many bands I loved play growing up, like Nirvana and Sound Garden. It was always the place to go, beside the Tacoma Dome I guess. The fact that I'll be on the stage is incredible.

How did you get into acting in the first place?

A really, really roundabout way. I was a math major at the UW, even though I knew I wanted to be a musician I was also encouraged to have a backup, what's going to get me out of college without having to write too many papers? So I graduated with a degree in math, and worked at tech companies during the day while trying to be a musician at night.

After a while I decided I wanted to put all my focus into music, and moved to Boston to attend the Berkeley College of Music. I totally caught the acting bug after doing some community theater, and ended up moving to New York and just started auditioning.

How long has it been since you've been back in Seattle? What are you most excited for?

It's been a little less than a year. My sister has two little kids that I try and get back to visit pretty often, since they grow up so fast. One of my first stops will most likely be Dick's for a burger, and then probably The Flying Fish where I used to work. I also heard that my favorite coffee shop Bauhaus closed or moved or something so I need to look into that.

Once opens tonight at 7:30 at the Paramount, and will play 16 shows through June 8. Tickets are between $25 - $100, and the show lasts around 2 hours and 15 minutes.