March 24, 2019

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Britney Spears Songs on Broadway? It’s Not Just a Fairy Tale

Britney Spears Songs on Broadway? It’s Not Just a Fairy Tale
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Britney Spears, meet Betty Friedan.

The theater owner James L. Nederlander announced Tuesday that he is producing a new musical featuring the song catalog of Ms. Spears — one of the best-selling pop artists of all time — that explores an alternative arc for some classic fairy tale princesses.

The show, a musical comedy called “Once Upon a One More Time,” is scheduled to have a production this fall in Chicago and then seek to transfer to Broadway.

Unlike many jukebox musicals, this show will not be about Ms. Spears’s life (which has not been a fairy tale), but instead will offer a revisionist look at some legendary characters. In the show, a fortnightly book club whose members include Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty, is working its way through a collection of the Grimms’ fairy tales — the only book they have. But when the women wish for new reading material, a fairy godmother brings them Ms. Friedan’s feminist classic, “The Feminine Mystique,” and their lives are altered in unexpected ways.

“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 the bookwriter, Jon Hartmere, who wrote the screenplay for “The Upside” and was one of the writers of “Bare,” a musical about gay Christian teenagers.

“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.”

The director will be Kristin Hanggi (“Rock of Ages”) and the choreographers Keone & Mari Madrid (Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself”; “World of Dance”).

The project has already had several readings — one of them attended by Ms. Spears — and will have a developmental workshop next month, Mr. Hartmere said. He said the score currently includes 23 songs from Ms. Spears’s catalog, including most of her big hits, as well as “a couple of deep album cuts.”

The show is scheduled to start previews Oct. 29, to open Nov. 13, and to run until Dec. 1 at the James M. Nederlander Theater in Chicago. Those are the same dates, and the same theater, that had been set aside for “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough,” a Michael Jackson jukebox musical that canceled its Chicago plans on the eve of an HBO documentary detailing abuse allegations against the pop star. That show’s producers say they are still hoping to come to Broadway.



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