Keone and Mari Madrid. Photo credit: Justin Lubin/NBC.
When the head of the Nederlander organization, James L. Nederlander, announced last week that the long-anticipated Britney Spears musical was finally on a path to Broadway, it didn’t take long for the news to spread far and wide.
The musical, titled Once Upon A One More Time, will play Chicago’s James L. Nederlander Theatre for an autumn out-of-town engagement before seeking a home on Broadway next spring. The Chicago run is currently scheduled to begin previews October 29, with an opening set for November 13, and will close December 1.
Spears, who came to prominence in the 1990s will make her first venture to Broadway with the project.
”I’m so excited to have a musical with my songs - especially one that takes place in such a magical world filled with characters that I grew up on, who I love and adore,” Spears told The Guardian. "This is a dream come true for me!”
Dance fans will be elated to see the attachment World Of Dance’s Keone and Mari Madrid to the project.
The Madrid's merge with Broadway — especially on a project with stakes as high as those to be expected on an original Britney Spears musical — will be yet another opportunity for commercial and contemporary dance fans and theatre fans to converge. While other prominent contemporary style choreographers like Sonya Tayeh, Mia Michaels, Mandy Moore, and others have or are beginning to successfully navigate the waters of major league musical theatre choreography, this will be a big test for the Madrid’s as they make their first go at winning over a Broadway audience.
The married couple, widely respected for their storytelling through both performance and choreography, were Division Finalists in Season One of NBC’s World Of Dance. The couple also starred in the Justin Bieber “Love Yourself” video, performed on Dancing With The Stars, and have choreographed for SYTYCD, The Ellen Show, and Fear Factor.
“We’ve kind of established ourselves as storytellers,” Keone told Dance Network’s Kristyn Burtt back in a 2017 episode of To The Pointe which featured the couple. “So we hope to continue with that route — with theatre, and film, and artists and the commercial work. As much as we can, we want all of it, we want to do it all!”
According to a New York Times interview with the musical’s book writer, Jon Hartmere— who wrote the recent film The Upside and contributed to the 2012 musical, Bare — Once Upon A One More Time will bring a feminist retelling of some of the most well-known princesses in fairytale history. The musical will also be accompanied by a score that reportedly “includes 23 songs from Ms. Spears’s catalog, including most of her big hits, as well as ‘a couple of deep album cuts.’”
“Cinderella is having an existential crisis, and she has a posse of famous princesses, and her stepmother is the main antagonist, and there’s also Prince Charming and a dwarf we’ve never met — the eighth dwarf — and a narrator who is unhappy his system is being dismantled before his eyes,” Hartmere told The New York Times. “These women have been in this hermetically sealed world, and then they start to get deeper into modern ideas — second and third-wave feminism — and also explore how stories are passed down to us, and where we get our norms from. But it’s also superfun and funny.”
A pun-filled Spears related promotional statement on the show’s out-of-town dates and location, posted on Broadway In Chicago's page dedicated to the project, also outlines the basic plot.
“Once Upon A Time… a group of famous fairy tale princesses gather for their fortnightly book club, to read together from – well, the only book they’ve ever known – Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” the statement reads. “When Cinderella makes a desperate wish for a new story, a rogue fairy godmother drops The Feminine Mystique in her corseted lap. Oh baby, baby… could there really be more to life than bridesmaid dresses, friendships with woodland creatures, and dreams of a prince’s kiss?”
Director Kristin Hanggi working on 'Clueless The Musical'. Photo credit: Broadway World.
Theatre fans will be delighted to see TONY® nominee Kristin Hanggi has been announced to helm the project. Hanggi, a prominent stage and film director in Los Angeles and New York City, most recently garnered recognition for directing the successful Off-Broadway premiere of Clueless The Musical and was nominated for a TONY® in 2009 for overseeing the staging of the smash hit, Rock Of Ages.
Though the musical will be the first incarnation of Spears’ iconic music on Broadway, the project has been in the works for a few years now.
"Throughout her career, Britney has captivated fans across the globe with her singular brand of energy and resilience," said James L. Nederlander, head producer of the Nederlander organization when the project was announced. "For three years, we have been working closely with her to develop a concept that perfectly encapsulates her unique spirit, and are so thrilled to finally bring this joyous and electrifying show to the stage.”
The Nederlander Organization announced the new musical’s dates quickly after the cancelation of the Michael Jackson jukebox musical, Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough, which was scheduled in the same theatre with similar dates. That musical’s cancellation came on the eve of the premiere HBO Documentary, Leaving Neverland.
For more on the musical, tickets, and dates, check in with Broadway In Chicago, and of course, stay with Dance Network for the latest.