ONCE UPON... Review: Someone’s Phone Rang at A DOLL'S HOUSE and Their Ringtone Was "Work Bitch"
by Reilly Wilmit. @reilly.wilmit.
NEW YORK, NY - With jukebox musicals like & Juliet and Moulin Rouge! dominating the Broadway stage, it was only a matter of time before pop icon Britney Spears inspired a musical of her own. Once Upon a One More Time has taken the chart-topping hits we all know and love and has spun them into a flashy feminist fairytale...or, at least, that’s what we’ve heard.
We haven't actually seen the show, but we did see a performance of A Doll's House where someone’s phone went off and their ringtone was “Work Bitch”, so that's basically the same thing, right?
Unfortunately, not even the show's powerhouse cast, including film star Jessica Chastain, could save this show from lacking a modern flair, and almost all of Britney Spears' discography.
To start off, the choreography was lackluster. It mostly consisted of actors sort of sitting around or walking across the stage, and there was no singing whatsoever (save for approximately half a chorus of the aforementioned modern classic “Work Bitch,” of course.) It was almost like it was a prime example of the late 1800s realism movement in theatre or something. Weird.
We could definitely see the feminist themes that the show was trying to convey, but it didn't feel very topical. Actually, the entire story almost felt like a 19th-century man's take on women's issues. It's possible that this was because the show we were watching was Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's controversial 1879 play A Doll's House, but it was disappointing, nonetheless.
Even more disappointing was the lack of iconic Britney Spears tunes. You'd think that a Britney Spears jukebox musical would at least try to get the rights to fan favorites like "Oops!...I Did it Again" and "Toxic" - and to be fair, the team behind Once Upon a One More Time probably did, but to reiterate, we were watching the prequel to 2017's A Doll's House, Part 2, A Doll's House.
Act two finally delivered our first and only musical number! During an emotional scene in which Dr. Rank reveals his imminent death, Britney Spears' "Work Bitch" started playing super loudly from someone's cell phone a few seats down from us.
While we understood what the director was going for with this creative choice, it could have been utilized during a more thematically appropriate moment in the show, and ultimately felt disjointed.
Also, that song is a major fucking banger, and we only got to hear, like, 15 seconds of it. Zero stars.