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Once Upon a Time’s much-anticipated musical episode is right around the corner, and it looks like the show is tapping into its Disney roots for inspiration.
Not only will fans get a blast from the past as ABC’s Once Upon a Time revisits the events of the pilot, they’ll also get an infusion of Disney charm in the form of a duet between Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and his blushing bride, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin).
Within the first few minutes of the episode, Snow and Charming wake up to a pretty wonky new world full of singing, providing the perfect launch for this musical episode and their triumphant duet, “Powerful Magic.” As expected, the majority of the musical takes place in the flashbacks to the Enchanted Forest, before Regina’s dark curse hit, which paid off in a big way, according to Goodwin and Dallas.
“We needed to be able to lean in,” says Goodwin, “and I didn’t know that would be possible without singing songs that were lifted from historic Disney animated features. I mean, these composers are brilliant, and I felt that being in fairy-tale land meant that because we could be a bit more stylized, we could really dig our elbows in.”
“The canvas of the fairy-tale land of it all really lends itself to a musical landscape,” adds Dallas. “What I particularly loved about our number is that it felt like, out of all the numbers in the show, that it was the most Disney-esque.”
As for how the actors pulled off this larger-than-life event, the world may never know.
In between their regular shooting schedule, the actors had to meet for rehearsals, choreography and studio time, all while juggling shooting for previous episodes, making the production of this episode about 10 times more complicated than normal.
“We didn’t get any extra time,” says Dallas. “We still had the same amount of time that we have to shoot an episode, but there was just more work that we had to do on top of what we already were doing … while we were shooting the previous episode.”
While Dallas is a musical-theater pro, having a long history with theater and musicals, Goodwin was less sure about taking on the first sweeping musical number of the episode.
“I’m terrified of singing — like seriously terrified of singing — and had always said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to do a musical,’ because truthfully, I thought it would never happen,” said Goodwin during a recent screening, which THR attended. “They did say, ‘You’re going to do a musical episode, how do you feel about it?’ And I said, ‘I feel like if you put me in the background with jazz hands, I will serve the story very well.’ But that’s not what happened.”
Luckily for Goodwin, what sounds like a relatively painless recording and rehearsal process was made possible by the brilliance of songwriters Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner.
“Alan and Michael made that whole process just so great,” says Dallas. “When we were in the prerecords of it, it was so easy, and they’re so enthusiastic. … They are serious fans, and they know the show very, very well.”
Goodwin also praised the songwriters’ ability to weave the musical elements into an episode in an organic way that felt right for the typically fast pace of a Once episode.
“I don’t feel like we ever stopped the story to break out into song and dance,” says Goodwin. “I felt that this was always carrying the narrative further. The thing that I don’t like, frankly, about most musicals, is I feel like, ‘OK, now I have to stop and watch people be very self-indulgent,’ as opposed to watching the story continue. I felt like you needed these songs in this script to keep the story moving forward. I loved taking part in that.”
These same elements might have fans laughing at the absurdity of a wish that forces everyone to sing during climactic events and meetings, but the hilarity is well worth it if it means watching Regina (Lana Parrilla) get her own Disney villain number or Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) sing about swashbuckling pirates and revenge. (Watch that, above.)
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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