'Once Upon a One More Time' song guide: How Britney Spears hits flip the script on fairytales

Songs by the Princess of Pop — including, of course, "Cinderella" — illuminate all the different things "happily ever after" can mean in this Broadway musical.

Joe Dziemianowicz
Joe Dziemianowicz

The Britney Spears Broadway musical Once Upon a One More Time follows fairytale heroines who’ve had it with reliving the same old, same old each time a child settles in for a bedtime story. Seriously, is that all there is?

No, actually. That’s what Cinderella, called Cin, realizes with help from a godmother who’s fluent in both enchantment and feminism in this show written by Jon Hartmere. The savvy guardian inspires the princess to question the arc of her narrative — and the notion of happily ever after. Cin shares her wake-up call with other storybook ladies.

Once Upon a One More Time uses more than 20 songs made famous by the Grammy-winning Spears to drive a fresh narrative. In some spots, Hartmere has cleverly tweaked Spears's original lyrics, but primarily they’re belted as is.

Here’s how Spears’s songs you know and love (and can sing verbatim) fit into key moments of the musical at the Marquis Theatre.

“...Baby One More Time”

Spears’s 1998 breakout hit made her a global sensation, a pop starlet who captured the world's attention. The famous earworm serves as an introduction to storybook heroines including Snow White, Rapunzel, the Little Mermaid, Princess Pea, and others. They all want to be at the center of the tale a little girl chooses for a bedtime story.

“My loneliness is killing me,” they sing. “Give me a sign! Pick me, baby, one more time.” So who’s the lucky chosen one? Cinderella (Briga Heelan), who has acted out her story a zillion times — same twists, same turns, same ending. But this time, it dawns on Cin that “something wasn’t right” about her life with Prince Charming (Justin Guarini).

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“All eyes on me in the center of the ring, just like a circus.” In her energized 2008 hit, Spears sang about how living in the spotlight is chaotic and thrilling. Charming leads the exhilarating number as his marriage to Cinderella approaches. Everyone in his fairytale orbit is in his thrall. “I’m like the ringleader, I call the shots.” When he sings, “C’mon, make a dance floor,” you'd better believe he cues a three-ring production number.

“Work Bitch”

Spears’s full-throttle 2013 banger was a wake-up call to any lazybones types who think they could get what they want – whether it’s “a Lamborghini” or looking “hot in a bikini” – without putting in the effort. “Pick up what I’m puttin’ down,” she commanded.

Who else would sing this but Cinderella’s wicked stepmother (Jennifer Simard) and stepsisters (Ryann Redmond and Tess Soltau), who order her to do their actual housework? Cin, alas, is their bitch.

The lyrics now match the storybook setting: “You want a posh carriage, you want a hot marriage, you wanna rock rich? You better work, bitch.”

“Oops!…I Did It Again”

The title megahit single off Spears’s 2000 Grammy-nominated studio album speaks to sending out mixed signals in the game of love: “Oops, I did it again. I played with your heart, got lost in the game.” Prince Charming gets this classic after a revelation that brings into question if he lives up to his name. Suddenly, the idea of a happily ever after with him seems iffy. The stage is set for a feminist awakening, if not an uprising.

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Relationships are complicated. A lover that leaves you powerless is like a dangerous drug. That’s the bottom line of Spears’s propulsive Grammy-winning dance-pop hit that dropped in 2003: “With a taste of your lips, I’m on a ride. You’re toxic, I’m slippin’ under. With a taste of poison paradise, I’m addicted to you.”

Cinderella’s Stepmother, a master manipulator, uses this song to seduce the Narrator (Adam Godley) and convince him he’s all that. It’s all because he has the power to change stories — and that’s what the Stepmother is really chasing. It's clear that she's the toxic one.

All the songs in Once Upon a One More Time

The above songs are just a sampling of the hits and deep cuts from the Britney Spears catalog in Once Upon a One More Time. But we know spoiling too much about the changes to all the songs is apt to make you “Crazy” or drive you to “Scream & Shout.” How do those two songs and more factor into the story? See for yourself by getting tickets to Once Upon a One More Time on Broadway.

Here are all the Spears songs you'll hear in the musical.

  • "...Baby One More Time"
  • “Make Me”
  • “Lucky”
  • “Brightest Morning Star”
  • “Boys / Pretty Girls”
  • "Circus"
  • “Sometimes”
  • "Oops!...I Did It Again"
  • “From the Bottom of My Broken Heart”
  • “Piece of Me”
  • “Cinderella”
  • “Womanizer”
  • "Scream & Shout" / "I Wanna Go”
  • “Crazy”
  • “Everytime”
  • “Stronger”
  • “Til the World Ends”

Photo credit: Once Upon a One More Time on Broadway. (Photos by Matthew Murphy)

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