The writers of Britney Spears’ jukebox musical “Once Upon a One More Time,” which opened on Broadway on Thursday night, often recall five years ago. It happened when Spears sat a few rows in front of me at a theater in Manhattan. Early reading of the program.
Writer John Hartmere recently said, “I was just looking at her and I was like, ‘Will she like this? I remembered that I was relieved every time I saw it become. “It was pure joy.”
Once Upon a One More Time is a spooky fairy tale parody that eschews the biomusical formula by focusing on a cast of disillusioned Disney princesses and storytellers. It’s the latest in a long series of jukebox musicals that have covered the catalog. Seeking box office success, she appeared with such artists as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and the Temptations.
With a tracklist that included hits like “Stronger,” “Toxic,” and “Circus,” the show has Boffo’s potential for success, but it also faces unique challenges.Originally conceived at a time when Spears was under her guardianship and her father had a great deal of control over her life, this work guaranteed Fans claimed the show was fully sanctioned by the pop star herself after being released from the arrangement. But it’s unclear to what extent her loyal fan base, whose activism has spurred the dissolution of the Conservative Party, will accept it. Perhaps one exuberant comment from Spears, a 41-year-old star with a reputation for unfiltered and unpredictable social media posts, will win or lose that audience.
Fans inside and outside the production have been closely monitoring Spears’ famous Instagram account to see if she has an opinion on the show (which she hasn’t yet). And the cast and crew are seeking reassurance internally that the interests of the production are in Spears’ own interest. She was named her guardian over her mental health concerns, not her former manager at Spears or her father, James P. Spears, and she has continued to manage her since then. As she continued to perform, she explored her personal life and financial situation for over a decade.
“As an artist, we just want her to be able to make her own decisions and live her life the way she wants,” he said, directing and choreographing the show alongside creative partner and wife Mari Madrid. said Kione Madrid. “We are all eager to give her credit.”
Hunter Arnold, one of the show’s lead producers, said Spears himself signed the deal after the conservatorship ended, and no one else in the Spears camp is currently under contract to receive benefits. Stated.
A representative for Spears did not make her available for an interview, but confirmed the timing of the latest deal, adding that the singer provided a note in response to a video of Madrid’s choreography.
The opening comes at a time when Spears’ life continues to be the subject of gossip items. Since the legal arrangement ended, Spears has announced her marriage to Sam Asghari, but she said she couldn’t do it under guardianship, prompting her to briefly return to the music industry and release an album. was released. tracking with Elton John. A legal battle over the abolition of the guardianship system continues in Los Angeles, and her lawyers are challenging some of her guardianship accounts.
In his work, the desire to please Spears sometimes meant grabbing snippets of information from reclusive big star representatives.
Does Britney like fairy tales? This show is based on the world where Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel are friends. Britney loves butterflies? The production created insect props and branded the show with things like rainbow floodlights in the shape of butterflies that theater goers could pose with outside the theatre. (“That might be an example of where we tried to push too hard,” Hartmire said of the show’s month-long tryouts in Washington, D.C., when the show turned the Broadway production “Butterfly Vortex.” It was noted that it was removed.)
“That spirit has always served her desires,” Arnold said.
The musical’s financial structure has become the center of scrutiny for some fans, following the revelation of how Spears’ father and former management company profited financially from the guardianship system.
Originally, the production newspaper in late 2019 featured a company called . Shiloh Standing Co., Ltd., according to documents filed with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the system was initiated shortly after the guardianship system was created by Spears’ father, entitled to 7.5 percent of net production profits. Spears’ former manager, Larry Rudolph, was also set to receive $1,500 a week in addition to an executive producing fee of $30,000.
But plans for a brief run in Chicago in 2020 and then a move to Broadway were derailed by the pandemic, and the show was postponed, during which time Spears’ world was turned upside down. The show’s spokesperson, Leslie Papa, said her contract with Ms. Spears would be negotiated and signed in 2022 after her guardianship ends, with all her compensation paid directly to her.
Arnold said that in addition to the basic rights deal, Spears also finances show royalties through music licensing revenue, which means other lyricists and music producers own many of the songs. Even if it is, it was tied in recognition of her role in popularizing the music. song rights. He declined to specify the exact payment structure for Spears, which so far has not been included in government filings.
According to a copy of the Broadway musical’s 2022 budget, shared with The New York Times by a person not authorized to discuss the production, the basic rights contract associated with the performance had an upfront payment of $80,000. Arnold noted that when a Broadway show is successful, royalties often quickly exceed the initial upfront payment.
So far, some of the largest social media accounts related to the abolition of guardianship movement, known as #FreeBritney, have said little about the musical, especially in contrast to fan excitement about collaborating with Elton John. did not speak.
But many ticket holders to the Marquis Theater preview were quick to label themselves as die-hard Britney fans, with knowledgeable references to the pop star being made in the show. express joyful reactions. original choreography Audiences tend to roar with … I did it again” rather than “Oops!” Because they spent their early teens internalizing Spears dancing on MTV, Madrid narrative choreography Staccato’s Isolation considers themselves to be “a natural extension of her and her work.”
“Her music has always been in my life in one way or another,” Mari Madrid said.
These references are more like inside jokes that most audiences will understand. The audience never hears the word “Britney” throughout the entire show. It’s only at the end that the speakers blast out the pop star’s most famous opening lines.It’s Britney, bitch.While none of the show’s official merch has Spears’ imagery on it, there is one product that is selling fast. tote bag Bag proclaims, “This is Broadway, bitch.”
Nelson Saavedra Jr., owner of #FreeBritney page On Reddit, he chose to support the show and has already attended two preview performances, noting that direct assessments from Spears influence his own thoughts on the show.
“Britney signed the deal after she was free, so let’s just take it at face value and move on,” Saavedra said. “Of course, things will change tomorrow if she says, ‘Don’t go to this play,'” he said.
Audiences can’t help but think that the musical’s central theme of famous tormented maidens taking control of their own lives is a grand metaphor for Spears’ release from her guardianship. No, but Hartmere said those similarities are just coincidence.
“This story is about women learning what they can and need to have in life,” said Hartmire. “It was always the story from the beginning.”
For Hartmere, the return of memories of watching Spears perform that early also brings anxiety. What if you end up disappointed that some songs didn’t make it to the finals?The show’s creators didn’t know how to craft racy lyrics from her 2016 song “clumsy” The song has been removed because it is for children.
At this point, the creators can only wait and see if Spears decides to attend the performance, but they admit it’s everyone’s best guess.
Michael Paulson and Liz Day contributed to the report.