Review of the Once Upon a Time Rock Opera
A bit of background, before I dive in.
Huge thanks to OUAT Super Fan, Natasha (Creator of the Snow White and Prince Charming: Once Upon a Time FB Fan Page) for emailing us about Erin Stegeman-Marerro’s Youtube OUAT Parody video series (‘Once Upon a… Anonymous‘) and Erin’s dream of creating a OUAT Parody Rock Opera video. Without that, I would have never known. Thanks, Nat.
I’m a Oncer (that Podcasts), too
My wife (Colleen) and I host the Once Upon a Time Fan Podcast (http://onceuponatimepodcast.com). P.S. If you don’t listen to an OUAT podcast, you really should (5 Reasons you should listen to a OUAT podcasts). If you are new to Once Upon a Time, here is a place we created for beginners: OUAT for Beginners.
I believe that we were the first podcast to interview Erin and Ace about creating the OUAT Rock Opera
Once Upon a Time Dreams Do Come True
Erin invited Colleen and I to attend and cover (as Press) the premiere of the OUAT Rock Opera at the historical, Egyptian Theater in Hollywood on Friday, September 25th, 2015. Knowing that the first big Hollywood premiere of the Douglas Fairbank’s ‘Robin Hood‘ (another geeky Oncer connection, btw) actually happened at the same theater on October 18, 1922 was very cool.
Here is some of the Red Carpet coverage
Now, onto the review of Once Upon a Time: Rock Opera
One of the things that Erin Stegeman-Marrero mentioned in the Cast Q&A panel hosted by Zach Van Norman from the Once Upon a Fan website was that one of elements in the OUAT Rock Opera was envisioned to be a fun movie that the audience could interact with, like ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ and that translated well in the OUAT: Rock Opera, for sure.
This video was fun. Very fun.
As you watched this video, one thing was for sure. You felt like many of the characters (and writers) winked at you throughout the production like you were in on the jokes. As much as an escape of ABC TV’s Once Upon a Time is to many fans, the OUAT Rock Opera is not only an escape, but a reason to laugh, sing a long, and have a great time.
Is it suitable for kids?
It depends on the age of the children and what the parents allow their children to watch. A general answer, from me (Not knowing the particular situation) would be ‘No’, but I always think the parent(s) should watch some of the Once Upon a Anonymous episodes, then make a decision.
The OUAT: Rock Opera is made by fans, for fans.
I realize that the phrase above may be overused, but it’s a perfect description of the Rock Opera. As a podcaster who looks at each OUAT episode like a Zapruder film, the same care went into the script for people like me.
“Is the OUAT Rock Opera only for OUAT uber fans and would the average person not ‘get it’?” Nope
As you watch the video, one foot is firmly planted in the fun, fairy tale world that Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis created, but the other foot is planted in the Disney-ized tales we grew up watching. If you know Snow White, Prince Charming, Ariel, Ursula, Belle, The Beast, CogsWorth, Lumiere, and others – you’ll be just fine. My only warning it to wait until it’s over to ask why people were laughing when you weren’t.
Did it look like a “fan film”?
I’ve been a fan of many movies and TV shows for a long time and have seen my share of fan films (I’ve made my own, too.), and however you frame the statement (“A film made by fans, for fans”, etc), it still has a cringe worthy moment when someone asks, “Yea, but it is good?”
The OUAT Rock Opera isn’t good. It’s great.
This doesn’t look like a fan film, it’s more than a fan film. The quality was everywhere; Great script (even when the plot got confusing (like OUAT, by the way), a character would explain what was going on, so we are all in on it), Great quality visuals (The special effects looked awesome, too), Fantastic actors, cool multiple locations, catchy memorable songs, I could go on and on.
Erin is the glue that held the production together
Erin’s career is definitely one you should watch. Her dreams, drive and determination are infectious. In a world where people say, “I wish I could do this or that…” and never do it,
Erin is different. She makes her dreams come true (Without the help of a Fairy Godmother, or a Rumplestiltskin spell).
During the Cast Q&A, one of the main themes was why people joined the OUAT: Rock Opera project and over and over people said, “Because of Erin.”
Stefanie Woodburn (playing Mulan) told a story about how she and Erin were in a class together and Erin was discussing how she solved a casting dilemma with one of the early episodes on Once Upon a Anonymous, and Stefanie was very impressed at Erin’s creative solution to a situation that might shake others.
There are probably many more stories like that throughout the cast/crew in the making of the Rock Opera, and that is another facet of this video that I felt was important to highlight. What a great legacy Erin is building. Her passion and drive, draw others to join her. Again, her career is one to keep tabs on.
The opening scene with Jeremiah Peisert (playing Cruella) was incredible. If you didn’t buy that scene or his performance, it was over, but he was fantastic. The opening scene that set up the quest really sold the rest of the production. Hats off to Jeremiah for a very strong role.The songs. I don’t like musicals, but adding the songs with the story worked for me here. it was nice that each song gave the audience a fun break throughout the unfolding parody story. I’m still having dreams about Amiee Conn’s (playing Regina) “Evil” (Thanks Amiee. 🙂 ), No spoilers, but the *No Spoliers* “Charming-…” song reminded me of the Monty Python’s “Knights of the Round Table” song – so fun, The funky “The Truth” features Ace Marrero’s (playing Hook) fabulous rappy-ish singing, Erin’s “Magic in Me”, and the tour de force “Tinker My Bell” with Vivian Lamolli (playing Ursula). Kudos to Erin for writing the songs and the capable hands of Martin Blasick with the music. The songs were an important part of this. They worked and worked well.
The actors. Ace Marrero (playing Hook) just nailed it as Hook. The accent, the look. Wow. Erin Stegeman-Marrero (playing Emma) has the look, yes, but she acts like Emma would. It’s tough to believe sometimes that it’s actually not Jennifer Morrison. Amiee Conn created a role of the Evil Queen with anger buried down deep but could appear at any moment with a smoldering, sexy edge, with a dash of sad. Some other standouts; Gotta say it again – Jeremiah Peisert (playing Cruella), Mark Whitten (playing Prince Charming), Jay Stephenson (playing Cogsworth), and Colin Kramer (playing The Knave). Honestly, I wish I could have seen it again to catch more of the performances.
Production value. The video looked crisp. The camera work was great. The editing was very good. They set the stage (pardon the pun) very well for the actors to bring the script to life. Kudos.
The OUAT Fan Easter Eggs. I’m not going to give anything away, but as I said before, Erin (as a fan) placed little mentions, moments, etc for us OUAT fans to catch. There are some obvious winks to pairings, OUAT storyline wtf moments, and a plethora of mugs throughout the Rock Opera (Erin mentioned this was an inside joke with the cast and crew). All I can say is keep your eyes open and watch this Rock Opera over and over again to catch it all.
Some other moments
Nothing is perfect. Hell, even OUAT isn’t perfect (Just follow Adam Horowitz on Twitter to see the fan’s critiques of the show they “love”), so here are some other moments of the OUAT Rock Opera;
Some of the lips didn’t match the singing here and there, but the heart and feeling of the actors singing the song did cover some of it.
I got lost at certain points in the storyline, but as I mentioned before, they helped by the script including “breaking down the fourth wall” explanations of why certain things happened to catch the audience up.
The larger cast at certain points of the Rock Opera made it tough for some of the actors playing smaller roles to stand out.
In the days in which shows come and go quickly, as a fan you must “make (and enjoy) parodies while the show is on the air”. If you are a Oncer, this is the time to enjoy fan creations – especially this one. Don’t wait. If it comes to your area – see it. Buy the T-Shirt (or two), CD, and (when it comes out) buy the playable disc. Not only are you supporting Erin and the team, but you are letting the network (and sponsors) know that there is an audience (outside of the TV show) for this.
Tell Erin and the cast ‘thank you’. They did this for the fans of Once Upon a Time and even in this 24 hour connected world of Social Media, we don’t say Thanks enough. I hope we use Social Media to share more love and appreciation, instead of negativity.
Wait! Once more thing. They played snippets of the commercials in which the cast have appeared in (including Erin). So unexpected and awesome. You probably have seen the cast on TV, and didn’t know it.
Review by Jeff Roney