Once Upon a Time: The Musical Episode
Songs By: Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner
The Song in Your Heart By David H. Goodman and Andrew Shambliss
Composer: Mark Isham
Distributed by: Walt Disney Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I have been watching Once Upon a Time on the ABC Television Network for quite a while now. When it first aired, the concept of a show featuring characters from our favorite fairytales set in today’s world thanks to a curse created by the Evil Queen with flashbacks to their time in the Enchanted Forest was intriguing. The first seasons were great, but the show was beginning to grow stale for me as the writers began casting out their nets for more characters and stories to include in the mix.
When I saw that the powers that be had decided to do a musical episode, I cringed and yet, when the show aired, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen. I was quite surprised at the outcome. So, when I was offered the opportunity to review the Once Upon a Time The Musical Episode Soundtrack, I jumped at the chance.
To set the stage, we must have some background. Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is the savior of Storybrooke, but that wasn’t always the case. Decades prior to her heroic adventure, Emma had simply been an orphan who grew into a cynical bounty hunter until she was visited by Henry Mills (Jared S. Gilmore), a young boy who claimed to be the son she had put up for adoption. According to Henry, he had been adopted by the Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parilla). Apparently, prior to Emma’s birth, Regina had cast a curse on all of the occupants of the Enchanted Forest, transporting them to Storybrooke and erasing the memories of who they once were.
Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) sent Emma away to protect her, hoping that the prophecy that she would one day come back to save them from the curse was real. To convince his mother of the truth of his tale, Henry gave her a book containing the tales of all who lived in the Enchanted Forest. The rest is history.
We now flash forward to the present time. Emma is preparing to spend the rest of her life with the man she loves, Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue), but evil still lurks in Storybrooke. Rumpelstiltskin’s (Robert Carlyle) mother, the Black Fairy (Jaime Murray) seeks to destroy all of the citizens of Storybrooke’s happy endings. A final battle is brewing and Emma is afraid that anything she tries to do to stop the Black Fairy will fail, causing harm to those she loves. She feels lost.
Flashback to a moment in Enchanted Forest history, a short time before Regina’s curse has taken hold. Snow White makes a wish that Emma will be protected by the evil surrounding her. As a result, the entire kingdom burst out in song, giving hope to the Charmings that maybe love will conquer evil…through the happiness of song.
The Once Upon a Time: The Musical Episode Soundtrack plays like the soundtrack of a Broadway musical, with elaborate numbers that are fun and catchy. As we listen to the Charmings sing about the Powerful Magic wielded by love through song, you get the distinct impression that these actors have done musicals in the past – they appear very comfortable in the medium and both have good voices for it. Lana Parilla’s voice is not quite so strong for the sweeter, softer tracks and that’s just fine. As the Evil Queen, her songs should be a little more edgy and so tracks like The Queen Sings and Love Doesn't Stand a Chance have a rock and roll feel. The strongest voices in the whole album belong to Colin O’Donoghue who sings of Revenge for his lost hand and (strongest of all) Rebecca Mader as Zelena singing Wicked Always Wins. Flash forward to the present and Emma finds her voice as Jennifer Morrison sings Emma's Theme, sometimes nailing it and sometimes falling just a tad short of the mark. Then comes the ensemble performance of the entire cast singing A Happy Beginning – a grand performance number that takes place after the wedding of Emma and Hook.
I had a great deal of fun watching this episode, surprised that it turned out so good and that so much of the cast had such great vocal ranges. It comes as no surprise that I would love listening to the Once Upon a Time: The Musical Episode Soundtrack. This is a must have for any fan of the show or any fan of musicals in general!