Broadway Review: ONCE UPON A ONE MORE TIME (Marquis Theatre)

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by Paulanne Simmons on June 30, 2023

in Theater-New York


It well may be that there are no new plots left in the world of theater. But does that mean we have to keep seeing playwrights rewriting and directors reworking what other minds have created? In the past season we saw new versions of Death of a Salesman, A Doll’s House and Camelot (to name a few).

Justin Guarini and Company
Adam Godley and Jennifer Simard

And now we have book writer Jon Hartmere and directors and choreographers Keone and Mari Madrid’s version of  Cinderella. What’s more, in this interpretation, Cinderella gets an assist from her fellow fairytale princesses Snow White (Aisha Jackson), Princess Pea (Morgan Whitley), Rapunzel (Gabrielle Beckford), Sleeping Beauty (Ashley Chiu) and Little Mermaid (Lauren Zakrin). But the big appeal here is the catalogue of Brittany Spears, which is well-covered in this jukebox musical.

Justice Moore, Mikey Ruiz, Selene Haro, Joshua Daniel Johnson
Aisha Jackson

The story is a little fuzzy. But it involves Cinderella (Briga Heelan) leading her cohorts in a strike after they discover that Prince Charming (Justin Guarini) has been cheating on them. Other bad guys include the bullying Narrator (Adam Godley) and  Cinderella’s Stepmother (Jennifer Simard). Meanwhile, Cinderella is aided and abetted by her (you guessed it) fairy godmother, renamed the Notorious O.F.G. (Original Fairy Godmother, played by Brooke Dillman).

Briga Heelan as Cinderella
Justice Moore and Ryan Steele

This is not a show where actors can display their chops, although Simard and Dillman are standouts. But it is a musical where they can show off their pipes, which they most definitely do. Spears fans will find all their favorite songs squeezed into the story: “Toxic,” “Baby One More Time,” “Womanizer,” “Oops!…I Did It Again.” And the dancing, if somewhat repetitive, certainly gives the ensemble plenty of opportunity to show off their energy and athleticism.

Justin Guarini & Company

With dazzling lighting (Kenneth Posner), scenic design (Anna Fleischle) and costumes (Loran Elstein), Once Upon a One More Time has the super-bbentertaining quality of an extravaganza. Audience members are even given interactive bracelets that light up at the end of the show.

Aisha Jackson, Morgan Whitley, Briga Heelan, Ashley Chiu,
Gabrielle Beckford, Lauren Zakrin
Tess Soltau, Briga Heelan and Ryann Redmond

Many of us would prefer the creators of musicals to write truly original stories, to say nothing of composing original music with new lyrics. Nevertheless, there’s no denying the sheer value of entertainment in this show.

Liv Battista, Adam Godley and Company
Justin Guarini and Company

If you’re a fan of Brittany Spears and hip-hop dancing, this is a show you won’t want to miss. But even if you’re not especially fond of either, Once Upon a One More Time will have your feet tapping and your hands clapping. You may even have to restrain yourself from quietly singing along.

The Company
Adam Godley, Jennifer Simard and Company

photos by Matthew Murphy

Aisha Jackson and Briga Heelan
The Company

Once Upon a One More Time
Marquis Theatre, 210 W 46th St
open run
run time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one 15-minute intermission
for tickets, visit Once Upon a One More Time
for a limited number of $47 tickets at each performance, visit Digital Lottery

Briga Heelan

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