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Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A ONE MORE TIME at Shakespeare Theatre Company; What Do the Critics Think?


The pre-Broadway production runs through January 2nd.

Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A ONE MORE TIME at Shakespeare Theatre Company; What Do the Critics Think?

ONCE UPON A ONE MORE TIME, the new musical featuring the songs of Britney Spears is now on stage at Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC through January 2nd.

In this highly anticipated world premiere of the Broadway-bound musical, beloved classic fairytale princesses gather for their fortnightly book club, longing for a new story. When a rogue fairy godmother drops The Feminine Mystique into their corseted laps, it spurs a royal revelation: there is more to life than bird-made dresses and true love's kiss! Powered by the chart-topping anthems of the Princess of Pop herself, Britney Spears - including "Oops!... I Did It Again," "Lucky," "Stronger," and "Toxic" - Once Upon a One More Time sends audiences on a heartwarming and uproarious musical adventure about smashing the glass slipper and reclaiming your own happily ever after.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Maya Phillips, New York Times: With its blatant messaging about female empowerment and revisionist approach, not unlike two recent Broadway musicals - "Six" and "Diana," both of which recast famous women from history as self-possessed and self-reliant feminist icons - "Once Upon a One More Time" reflects the broad strokes of modern-day feminism but shies away from anything too hefty or complex. That includes the pink-pigtailed elephant in the room: Spears herself, who has documented what she has called years of exploitation in her quest to end her conservatorship. So particularly the Britney faithful will most likely be disappointed to find the pop star absent from a show largely based on the products of her career.

Hannah Wing, BroadwayWorld: This cast is worthy of Broadway. Heelan shines as a feminist version of Cinderella. Her transformation into a leader of the princess movement doesn't go unnoticed. She clearly channels her inner Britney, especially during the song, "Womanizer," where she teams up with Jackson's passionate vocals as Snow White. Guarini's Prince Charming turns up the charm with his boy band rendition of "Oops...I Did It Again." Dillman's OFG is uproariously funny and witty, which is refreshing for a fairy godmother, a role that isn't traditionally cast in a comical light.

Nicole Hertvik, D.C. Metro: The stakes were high and the risks were great. And that is why I am so happy to report that Once Upon a One More Time is a full-fledged, grade A, gold star success and exactly the party we need after 21 months of COVID. The gamble is already paying off for Shakespeare Theatre Company, where the musical is playing to sold-out audiences who are dancing in their seats nightly. Rumors of a future Broadway run are circulating, and if last night's performance was any indication, the show will enjoy a bright future.

Peter Marks, The Washington Post: The big difficulty at this point in the musical's evolution - a production with Broadway on its agenda - is that no song gets the space and time necessary to truly break out. This frustratingly rushed sensation is emblematic of a production that packs in too many competing conceits and devices. The numbers are set off here in little explosions, courtesy of the Madrids' rat-a-tat tutting moves. Their dances are sharp but abbreviated: mere quotes, where an audience wants full sentences, and a bigger charge out of hearing Spears's repurposed music. (Along with Spears, Max Martin and Pharrell Williams are among the numerous songwriters.)

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