I must confess….my excitement….is killing me nowwww Don’t you know I can not wait…..to see once upon a one more time! ~ Me
I must confess…
Hello friends! And Happy Matinee Wednesday! When I heard that Brittany was headed to Broadway I have to admit, I had mixed feelings. I am a huge fan of juke box musicals. I know a lot of Broadway enthusiasts, and you could even call them purists, who are not a fan, but I for one love them. You already know the music, usually it is sung BETTER than the original track, and it feels like one big dance party. That said, I DO feel like they have to be arranged a certain way. You can’t just scatter songs, we all know and love into a musical, if they don’t move the story line along. I honestly wasn’t sure HOW they would incorporate Brittany’s music. After seeing & Juliet (11 plus times!!!) another juke box musical that uses two songs Brittany sang, but was written by Max Martin and then hearing Lorna Courtney singing Brittany, I kind of had my doubts anyone could compare lyrically. But Once Upon a One More Time surprised me. Not only that, but it was an experience. Lawd was it an experience!
Once Upon a One More Time begins with your normal happily ever after fairy tale, and has all the princesses you know and love, and the prince(s) who loves them. As Cinderella (Briga Heelen) and Prince Charming (Justin Guarini) dance away to their happily ever after, the scene literally ends with cut from the narrator who tells Cindy and Charming that it is a wrap until next time. You see, the fairy tale characters live in their own world, and are almost like actors, and when children read the books, which are more Brother’s Grimm than Disney, they act them out again and again and again as is their duty and role in life. But Cinderella wonders what if there is more to a happy ever after than just Cinderella being saved and kissed by the prince.
It is these ideas she expresses at a reading group filled with her other fairy tale princess sisters and further encouraged when the OFG, Original Fairy Godmother (who had been banished for gasps thinking!) gives her “the” book; Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique.” Set to the back drop of 23 of Brittany Spear’s hits, the show takes you on a journey that is filled with breaking down stereotypes, asking WHAT is a fairy tale, while performing insane choreography, and filled with lots of twists, an evil-ish stepmother, two step-sisters, and a narrator who is not at all what he seems.
The Acting, Set, and Costumes
Lately Broadway has a theme of turning stories on its head, and this is certainly a different kind of Broadway musical. In many ways it is more of a dance party, one where everyone is encouraged to rock out. It is filled with an insanely talented cast, who are not only acting and singing, but performing some of the most intricate choreography on Broadway. I don’t know HOW the cast does it. But in a show that is about feminism, it is actually the men who shine with complicated dance moves that will literally make you ask yourself HOW they do it, and while singing! Justin Guarini was a surprise star in this and I both loved and hated him. (go see it and you will know why!) He also showcased impressive vocals, because these are not easy tracks to sing. Briga Heelan was also incredible and really is the perfect Cinderella, as she portrayed a poised, yet joyful, princess, while also showing some steel as she fights for her ultimate happy ending. Aisha Jackson, who played Snow White and was Cindy’s partner in crime for much of the show also shined especially when she belted out From the Bottom of My Broken Heart. The narrator played by Adam Godley was another unexpected gem, as he weaved between lovable and diabolical. His duet with Jennifer Simard who plays the evil stepmother was hilarious.
While the set was actually quite simple, they made up for it with the insane lighting, which further added to the feel of being at a concert. The costumes also stood out. While the musical is inspired more by Brother’s Grimm then Disney’s take. The costumes took their inspiration from the Mickey Mouse company. It could have been over done, or cutesy, but they were the exact opposite. There were two takes, a more classic demure look, and then, as the women broke free, outfits befitting, well an iconic pop star. It was easy to recognize each of the princesses, which made the musical easier to follow. And total honesty I am still drooling over Cinderella’s second act look. Queen!
It’s Broadway B*tch!
Once Upon a One More Time is located at the Marquis Theatre in the Marriott Marquis and they have truly created an experience from the moment you walk into the building. In fact you, can even book their room that they redid inspired by the musical if you truly wanted to go all out for a a fairy tale Brittany experience. They have booths to take photos in and of course I jumped at the chance to take ALL the photos before the doors even opened. Much like the Barbie movie, I wore my pink for Brittany! They also handed out wrist bands for a special surprise at the end of the show. It truly was an experience, but a fun one.
I did have a complaint about the casting of the two stepsisters who are both phenomenal performers, BUT in a show that is trying to rewrite stereotypes, the casting was incredibly stereotypical. I also thought, while the messaging is great, and it is a fresh take, they could have done more, and gone more in-depth. For a musical that has an intermission it is actually on the shorter side. Lastly, I felt that the arrangement of some of the songs fell flat, as did their placement in the show, especially when another current show is showcasing Brittany music, and doing it well.
All that said, I did go into it with what you could say was low expectations. Despite the synopsis, I knew this wasn’t going to be Parade, or even Hamilton. I did not expect to be moved by the storyline, and so I was not disappointed, but I was entertained. Extremely so. And for those who are staunch fans of Brittany Spear’s music, you will be all over this. The choreography alone, makes it a reason to go see it, and you will laugh, especially when they kept saying happily ever after, like it was bless your heart (IYKYK). It was a fun, dance filled few hours, complete with nostalgia, wishing I had taken a few dance classes in my younger days, and literally in awe of the insane talent. As it said on a shirt I got, it’s Broadway B*tch!
Have you seen Once Upon a One More Time? Would you go see this musical? Are you a fan of Juke Box Musicals?