Once upon a time is one of Britney Spears’ first official projects following the end of her 13-year tenure.
Directed by directors and choreographers Keone and Mari Madrid, with an original story by Jon Hartmere, the musical is set to open June 22 at the Marquis Theater and will feature hits like “Oops I Did It Again,” “Lucky,” Circus” and “Toxic”.
Before its Broadway run, Once upon a time had made several pre-Broadway engagement attempts in Chicago from 2019 ahead of its December 2021 world premiere at the Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington, D.C. — nearly six months before a Los Angeles judge officially ended the the guardianship of Spears.
While the singer reportedly attended for a first reading in 2019, and made 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 said other elements of her life – including her finances and reproductive health choices – were controlled by her father, Jamie Spears.
Now, as those questions continue to swirl, the degree of involvement the Princess of Pop had in the lead-up to the Broadway musical is being clarified. Ahead of the show’s first preview on Saturday, producers James L. Nederlander and Hunter Arnold confirmed that Once upon a time is fully licensed and licensed by Britney Spears, and that the license agreement was negotiated, accepted and signed after curation by the 2022 Grammy winner.
The musical was also based on an idea suggested by the pop star and created in collaboration with Spears. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to a Spears rep for comment.
When the Broadway run of the musical was first announced on the singer’s 41st birthday, the show was simply touted as having been inspired by music performed and recorded by Spears, who was otherwise not not known to be involved. A rep for the musical also said THR all musical compositions in the show have been licensed by their publishers with the songwriters’ approval. (It was previously unclear who could authorize the use of Spears’ music under her tutelage.)
And before the musical aired on DC in 2021, Hartmere said he “had access to all of Spears’ songs,” according to an interview with The Washington Job. “The only thing I’ve been told is that she loves fairies,” he said of Spears. “And I was like, ‘This is it, this is what we need to continue.'”
The musical isn’t about Spears, but sees the tales of Cinderella, Snow White and other storybook heroines turned upside down when their book club takes over The feminine mystic thanks to a rogue fairy godmother, and they begin to question the meaning of “happily ever after”.
Briga Heelan as Cinderella, Justin Guarini as Prince Charming, Aisha Jackson as Snow White, Jennifer Simard as the Stepmother, Adam Godley as the Narrator, Brooke Dillman as the OFG (Original Fairy Godmother), Ryann Redmond as the Half -sister Belinda and Tess Soltau embodies the half-sister Bétany.
Other 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.