“Once Upon A Time Creates A Magical Musical”

Brittany Strelluf

ABC’s Once Upon A Time’s long-awaited musical episode “The Song In Your Heart” premiered Sunday May 7th.

Among those who sang  were Emma played by Jennifer Morrison, Regina  played by Lana Parrilla, Hook played by Colin O’Donoghue. Also performing were Charming played by Josh Dallas, Snow played by Ginnifer Goodwin, Zelena by Rebecca Mader, and Henry played by Jared Gilmore.

As well as Granny by Beverley Elliot, Grumpy by Lee Arenberg and Geppetto played by Tony Amendola.

The cast which performed seven original songs composed by Alan Zachary, Michael Weiner, and “Once Upon a Time” composer Mark Isham. Zachary and Weiner are best known for Broadway musical First Date, which has enjoyed success in the US and abroad.

The whole episode embodied the overlaying theme of hope that has been threaded throughout the entire run of the show. The music remained very true to the theme and feel of the show. The composers really understood and cared about the characters and their stories.  The theme in the shows end credits were incorporated in Emma’s tale which was incredibly heartfelt.  

Keeping with the show’s format of flashback plots that parallel to the current events of Storybrooke. We learn that Snow and Charming made a special wish that their unborn princess Emma will be protected.  As a result, their wish has the whole kingdom spontaneously bursting into song, much to the chagrin of Evil Queen. In present day Storybrooke, the Black Fairy, played by Jaime Murray, plans to unleash an evil curse on the town on the day of Emma and Captain Hook’s wedding. There were some very heartbreaking and uplifting moments woven throughout the episode. There were so many moments that beautifully compliment the characters’ various arcs, and parallel previous moments in earlier episodes.

All of the songs were very enjoyable. “Powerful Magic” was an adorable and strong opening number. A personal favorite was Captain Hook’s “Revenge is Gonna Be Mine.”  Props to Colin O'Donoghue who broke his foot while doing Fred Astaire’s chair trick from “Let’s Dance.” Rebecca Mader’s solo showed off her lovely voice. Of course, Hook and Emma’s duet “Happy Beginning” was something every Captain Swan fan needed and more.

While incredibly entertaining and canonically sound, this episode was much more than fun musical numbers, a sweet fairytale wedding, and setting up for the 2-hour finale. The musical episode served a higher purpose, it reminded fans of how great and very original “Once Upon A Time” really is. It is a tribute to the impeccable attention to details, redemption arcs, and excellent acting from the entire ensemble that drew fans in and carried the show over six seasons.


Brittany Strelluf has a Bachelor's degree in theatre and a Master's degree in education from Avila University in Kansas City. She is theatre and English instructor. She recently served on a Teaching Advisory Board for The Nelson-Adkins Museum of Art. Her stage credits include Trojan Women, Camelot, and I Never Saw Another Butterfly.