Theater Notebook: Carlsbad couple to direct, choreograph Broadway-bound Britney Spears musical

Married Carlsbad choreographers Keone, right, and Mari Madrid
Married Carlsbad choreographers Keone, right, and Mari Madrid will direct and choreograph the Broadway-bound Britney Spears jukebox musical “Once Upon a One More Time.”
(Evan Agostini / Associated Press)

Also this week, New Village Arts sends its ‘1222 Oceanfront’ holiday musical out on the road in a concert-style adaptation and Fritz Theatre’s Duane Daniels returns for one night only


Keone and Mari Madrid, a married dancer-choreographer team from Carlsbad, will make their Broadway debut next spring as the co-directors and co-choreographers of the jukebox musical “Once Upon a One More Time,” which features the songs of pop star Britney Spears.

The musical is about six fairy tale princesses having a feminist awakening after reading Betty Friedan’s 1963 book “The Feminine Mystique.” It made its world premiere in Washington, D.C., last December, where it received good to mixed reviews. It will open in previews on May 13 in Broadway’s Marquis Theatre, with an opening night planned for June 22. The Madrids also directed the Washington, D.C., production and are now splitting their time between Carlsbad and New York.

The Madrids have enjoyed a successful career performing and creating choreography for television, music videos and awards shows. In 2018, they created their own immersive dance theater piece called “Beyond Babel” that premiered in San Diego in 2018. It featured a dozen dancers inside a former boxing gym in downtown San Diego performing choreography inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and contemporary social issues.

Over the past decade, the married choreographer-performers Mari and Keone Madrid have soared to national dance prominence, with appearances and credits on programs from “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to “So You Think You Can Dance,” and a social-media following in the hundreds of thousands.

Sept. 17, 2018

The couple met at a dance event in Temecula around 2008. Mari, a Colorado native, had come up in the Bay Area dance scene before moving to San Diego in her early 20s. Keone, who grew up in Rancho Bernardo, danced for several years with the local troupe Culture Shock San Diego before taking up choreography in earnest with a rising local crew called Choreo Cookies. Mari also joined Choreo Cookies, and together the two helped the crew gain national exposure.

Some of the Madrids’ career highlights include starring in and choreographing work for Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” music video as well as a New York Times Square Billboard, “The Ellen Show,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” Mark Ronson, Flying Lotus & Kendrick Lamar, “SKY: A 3D Musical,” the MTV Video Music Awards and the UK Video Music Awards. Their YouTube videos have been viewed more than 2 billion times. Last summer, they starred on the NBC show “World of Dance,” and they also recently published “Ruth,” a multimedia experience dance book that combines dance, writing, illustration, music and video.

The 2021 cast of New Village Arts' "1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas."
(New Village Arts)

New Village Arts’ ‘1222 Oceanfront’ hits the road

Carlsbad’s New Village Arts theater company had planned to christen its new Dea Hurston New Village Arts Center this month with the company’s second annual production of Hurston’s “1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas” musical. But construction delays on the building have led the company to reimagine how the show will be presented and where.

Instead of presenting a full production of the show, New Village has scaled it down as a concert version that will be presented in four free performances Dec. 14 through 18 at locations around San Diego County. They will be followed by five ticketed performances on the New Village Arts stage.

The musical tells the story of Dorothy Black, an African American widow hosting her 30th annual Christmas celebration at her oceanfront Carlsbad home. Dorothy has fallen in love and wants to change the tradition-bound rituals of Christmas, but that upsets her adult son.

The building project, set to reopen Dec. 1, is believed to be only the second arts center in the nation named after a Black woman

July 7, 2022

Kristianne Kurner, New Village’s executive artistic director, said the version of “1222 Oceanfront” that audiences will see this month will feature seven actors singing to prerecorded tracks with some costume elements, some stage directions and the full script and score. But there will be only minimal props and no scenery. Ahmed Dents, New Village’s new associate artistic director, will serve as narrator and will lead any post-show talk-backs.

The community tour performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at City Heights Annex; 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad on Dec. 15; 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at Lincoln High School in San Diego; and at 7 p.m. Dec. 18 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. Tickets are free, but reservations are required and can be made online through New Village Arts’ website. The theater performances at New Village will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20 through 24. Kurner said the theater auditorium is ready for audiences, but the rest of the building is still a construction zone, so there may be a different access route to the building and the restrooms will be open but not completely finished.

The Dea Hurston New Village Arts Center will be gradually opened with a series of events in January and February. Education classes start Jan. 9, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Jan. 27. A community open house is planned from noon to 4 p.m. Jan. 28, and the grand reopening will be on Feb. 4, which is the opening night for the company’s production of the Jez Butterworth play “The Ferryman.” A grand reopening gala is also planned for March 11.

For details and tickets, visit

Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at