Well, where do I start with this crazy one!!! My night in Wonderland was certainly one to remember. It was an evening of complete and utter madness accompanied by some incredibly catchy songs and spectacular vocals. The production it based off Lewis Carroll‘s famous tales of Alice in Wonderland; so a little crazy is bound to be expected!
The story revolves around an older Alice and her daughter Ellie who are whisked away to Wonderland by the White Rabbit, having complained about their boring 9-5 ex-husband dominated lives. Now this is where it all got a bit confusing. There were a few songs and a few crazy characters introduced before eventually they discover the Looking Glass – the doorway to the side of your personality you’ve been hiding. So the ditzy Mad Hatter heads through first and becomes the deranged Mad Hatter who wants to be Queen and chop off everyones head. Next, Ellie is transformed into young delinquent and the geeky next-door neighbour Jack (who just popped along to Wonderland for no particular reason) becomes the hunky hero. The rest of the story is basically Ellie persuading her mother to nip through the Looking Glass and become a new woman, convincing the Mad Hatter not to chop off everyones heads and go back to her old ditzy self, and trying to stop the Queen’s upcoming trial – all before the inevitable happy ending. Its all about family, friendship and new beginnings.
The story is not deep and meaningful and it is most definitely not gripping. I was completely confused for 75% of the show but in a strange way that was kind of OK. You’re in Wonderland after all and it is this alternate universe where nothing quite makes sense. So the fact the show makes no sense almost makes sense … am I making sense?
What saved the show and made me leave with a smile on my face and a spring in my step was the cast. The casting of this show is impeccable. Leading lady Kerry Ellis is just spectacular as Alice. She spends a huge amount of this show belting out power ballads and she doesn’t miss a note. She gives a completely mesmerising performance from start to finish. Another cast member I was completely blown away by was Natalie McQueen. Oh My Goodness, what an incredible performance. She never once faltered in her portrayal of the Mad Hatter and her vocals are simply sublime. The Kerry Ellis and Natalie McQueen duet towards the end of the production is like something out of a Musical Theatre lovers wildest dreams – pure perfection. Wendi Peters was fabulous as the Queen of Hearts adding much of the comedic element of the show along with an amazingly powerful pair of lungs. Dave Willets was impressive as the White Rabbit and Stephen Webb did a stellar job as Jack.
The music and lyrics by Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy which narrate this production are beautiful. There are a few numbers which completely blew me away and stuck in my head relentlessly on the drive home. Particular favourites of mine were ‘Worst Day’, ‘Through the Looking Glass’ and ‘This is Who I Am’. Andrew Riley‘s set was simple yet innovative, creating a beautiful optical illusion of a rabbits hole and cleverly adapting from the dull and dreary real world to the crazy colourful world of Wonderland.
Wonderland is a completely bonkers night out. It is most definitely a musical which requires a completely open-mind and very few expectations. For a deep and meaningful story which completely makes sense – look elsewhere. If you’re happy with a little bit of crazy with catchy tunes and killer vocals on the side – you’ll love this.
You can see Wonderland at Milton Keynes Theatre until 22nd July before it continues on its UK Tour. For more information, head on over to the Wonderland Tour Website.
Before you go – I just thought I’d let you know that I had the incredible opportunity to head behind the scenes of this fabulous production AND have a chat with the wonderful Kerry Ellis!! My next post will be all about it – so stay tuned!!
*Production Images by Wonderland UK Tour Ltd