If there’s anything that could update a Grimm fairy tale for 2019, it would be one Instagram artist-pop genius Britney Spears. The New York Times reported yesterday that a Chicago theater owner is soundtracking a new fairy-tale musical with the songs of Spears, titled “Once Upon a One More Time.”
The musical will debut on-stage this fall in Chicago, hopefully making the jump to Broadway soon after. While, to be honest, news of a musical about Spears’ life would make me a little more excited—though, it’s been far from a fairy fale—I’ll take a feminist musical soundtracked by a pop icon.
The show will “offer a revisionist look at some legendary characters” centered around a book club that Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel are members of. Upon needing new reading material, a feminist fairy godmother brings them Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.
“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,” said writer Jon Hartmere, who wrote The Upside, a buddy comedy with Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston.
“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.”
Apparently, Spears has already attended one of the production’s readings, and the show will feature 23 of her songs from across albums. Most of her biggest hits will be included, in addition to a “couple of deep album cuts” (perhaps “Cinderella” of 2002’s Britney?)
Will a mash-up of Disney princesses, “Toxic”, and Betty Friedan be a touchstone cultural moment? We’ll find out when “Once Upon a One More Time” opens on Nov. 13 at the James M. Nederland Theater in Chicago.