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Once Upon A One More Time is one of the first Britney Spears-backed projects following the termination of her 13-year conservatorship.
Helmed by directors and choreographers Keone and Mari Madrid, with an original story by Jon Hartmere, the musical comedy is slated to open on June 22 at the Marquis Theater and will feature hits like “Oops I Did It Again,” “Lucky,” “Circus” and “Toxic.”
Ahead of its Broadway run, Once Upon a One More Time attempted a pre-Broadway engagement in Chicago beginning in 2019. Initially set for the James M. Nederlander Theatre in October, it would be delayed, and the opening rescheduled for April 2020. But in March, the pandemic shut down the theater industry, with the show’s producers eventually deciding to cancel the planned engagement altogether.
Once Upon a One More Time would make its eventual world premiere in December 2021 at Washington, D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company — nearly half a year before a Los Angeles judge officially ended Spears’ conservatorship.
While the singer was reportedly present for an early reading in 2019, and gave a statement to Playbill calling it “a dream come true for me,” questions remained about the level of her involvement and consent to the use of her music at a time when she had said other elements of her life — including her finances and reproductive health choices — were being controlled by her father, Jamie Spears.
Now, how much involvement the princess of pop had in the lead-up to the musical’s Broadway run is being clarified. Ahead of the show’s first preview on Saturday, producers James L. Nederlander and Hunter Arnold confirmed that Once Upon A One More Time is fully authorized and licensed by Britney Spears, and that the license agreement was negotiated, agreed to and signed post-conservatorship by the Grammy-winner in 2022.
The musical was also based on an idea the pop star had suggested, and created in collaboration with Spears. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to a rep for Spears for comment.
When the musical’s Broadway run was first announced on the singer’s 41st birthday, the show was billed as having been inspired by music performed and recorded by Spears, who was otherwise not known to be involved. A rep for the musical at the time told THR all the musical compositions in the show were licensed through their publishers with the approval of the songwriters. (It was previously unclear who could authorize the use of Spears music under her conservatorship.)
And before the musical’s D.C. run in 2021, Hartmere said he was “given access to all of Spears’ songs,” according to an interview with The Washington Post. “The only thing I was told was that she loves fairies,” he said of Spears. “And I was like, ‘That’s it, that’s what we’ve got to go on.'”
The musical is not about Spears, but sees Cinderella, Snow White, and other storybook heroines’ narratives turned upside down when their book club gets a hold of The Feminine Mystique thanks to a rogue fairy godmother, and they begin to question the meaning of “happily ever after.”
Briga Heelan stars as Cinderella, Justin Guarini as Prince Charming, Aisha Jackson as Snow White, Jennifer Simard as Stepmother, Adam Godley as The Narrator, Brooke Dillman as The O.F.G. (Original Fairy Godmother), Ryann Redmond as Stepsister Belinda and Tess Soltau as Stepsister Betany.
Additional cast members include Gabrielle Beckford as Rapunzel, Ashley Chiu as Sleeping Beauty, Nathan Levy as Clumsy, Ryan Steele as Prince Erudite, Morgan Whitley as Princess Pea, Lauren Zakrin as Little Mermaid, Liv Battista as Belle, Pauline Casiño as Esmeralda, Selene Haro as Gretel, Joshua Daniel Johnson as Prince Brawny, Amy Hillner Larsen as Goldilocks, Justice Moore as Red, Kevin Trinio Perdido as Prince Mischievous, Mikey Ruiz as Prince Gregarious, Josh Tolle as Prince Suave with Matt Allen, Jacob Burns, Salisha Thomas, Diana Vaden, Mila Weiras, Stephen Scott Wormley and Isabella Yeas.
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