Review: Once Upon a One More Time

What can I say about Once Upon a One More Time…? How about it was the singular most surprisingly fun and amazing show I’ve seen these season!?

Going into the show, I have to admit two things. First, I’m not a huge Britney Spears fan. I know her music, but all her songs? No. Second, I’m also not a huge fan of jukebox musicals. They can be enjoyable, but I usually find them to be forced.

So, imagine my surprise when, well, I just absolutely loved this show from start to finish! From a fresh look at the oft-used “fairy tale characters are alive when the  books aren’t being read” trope, to a new take on narrators, readers and the stories we all just accept because that’s the way “it’s always been.”

After all, “we tell fairy tales, we don’t make them.” But that’s what this show is about: making our own fairy tales. Our own stories, and finding the strength to do so.

And here’s where not being a huge Britney Spears fan was actually a net positive: I didn’t recognize all the songs. Most, yes, but some I was forced to interpret as they were presented with no prior context in my mind – like they were written for the show. And that actually worked for me!

Act 2 feels rushed and has an overall unsatisfying wrap-up for me, for the most part, but it made sense and was at least fun. I think the Narrator, who really does go totally evil gets off too easy in the end. But it’s a fairy tale and they are supposed to have happy endings, right?

I don’t think the show will last long, however, and not really because of the show itself, but because of the venue. The Marriott Marquis Theater is a very rough venue to be successful in. It has over 1,600 seats to fill! That’s a lot, and that’s hard for even “blockbuster” shows to do eight times a week. Once Upon a One More Time is giving away tickets like mad, totally free, and there are still empty seats. The show is entertaining, with a super-talented cast. I expect a closing announcement before too long, but with a tour to be announced soon after that.

Yes, I bought a magnet.