Wonderland – Bord Gáis Theatre – Review
19 Jun 2017 – 24 Jun 2017
Alice has just had the worst day imaginable. She was fired from her job in a travel agency as she was late for work. The reason why she was late was because her car was stolen! The fact that it is her birthday only compounds the problem. She returns home to her small apartment to talk to the best person in her life; her daughter Ellie. This is when things start to get weird! A white rabbit appears and kidnaps Ellie, taking her to a strange world. Alice follows to save her daughter from this unknown land!
This is a musical based on the characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll. The plot bears little relationship with the original text and the story is set in modern times and goes in quite a different direction. The musical has a book by Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd. The music is by Frank Wildhorn, who is known for his musical Jekyll & Hyde and also for writing the single “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” for Whitney Houston. This work premiered on Broadway in 2011 to mixed reviews.
This production has a familiar face from soapland, with Wendi Peters (as the Queen of Hearts) well known for her role as Cilla in Coronation Street. Both Kerry Ellis as Alice and Dave Willetts as the White Rabbit have had successful careers in the West End. The cast is padded out with a number of enjoyable roles such as Kayi Ushe as the Caterpillar and Dominic Owen as the Cheshire Cat. The plot allows a number of minor characters to have their moment in the spotlight.
There is something very iconic about Alice’s adventures, as written by Lewis Carroll. Sadly, a lot of this has been removed in favour of a more standard plot, as Alice learns some important lessons about the power of friendship, in a style reminiscent of Hollywood. With such a rich text to draw from, it is surprising they didn’t use more of the original. The text does have some funny moments and the humour helps carry the production.
The set is required to constantly change as Alice continues her journey. This is achieved with a number of props and flats descending from the heavens. It is well done but a little imagination is required to fill in the blanks.
The show uses the voices assembled to work through some quite varied material. It is a mixed bag of musical numbers that should prove enjoyable to any fan of the genre. The cast do a good job and Kerry Ellis as Alice has a powerful voice. Wendi Peters is under used as the Queen of Hearts, and the production lights up during her few brief scenes. She has great comic timing and a natural wit. This production should prove a hit with younger fans due to its strong moral core and has enough humour to keep their parents amused also.