Music by Frank Wildhorn & Lyrics by Jack Murphy
Palace Theatre, Manchester
24 April 2017
In this contemporary adaptation Alice (Kerry Ellis) is a single mother recently divorced, a former teacher, a would-be writer; a woman who wants to change her life.
And so she, together with her neighbour Jack (Stephen Webb) and daughter Ellie (Naomi Morris), decides to follow a white rabbit (David Willetts) down the lift in her block of flats (Alice finds it miraculous that a rabbit can talk, I’m amazed that she has found a lift that works) to Wonderland. It is weird as well as wonderful, the world she winds up in, what with it having a funky caterpillar (Kayi Ushe), a despotic, jam tart-loving Queen of Hearts, (Wendi Peters in fine form, and reminding me of someone I once knew) and a Mad Hatter (Natalie McQueen) who wants to start a revolution.
This is an entertaining and enjoyable update of Lewis Carroll’s children’s story, the classic having been given a classy, modern makeover replete with humour and song and dance, though I do have a concern that the show might appeal more to adults than to children. Lewis Carroll has garnered many adult admirers over the decades (Nabokov, the surrealists…) but his story belongs primarily to children – and to the child in us all. In this production, the balance has been skewered somewhat in favour of the grown-ups, I feel, with a concomitant loss of wonder.
Wonderland is currently touring the UK. Further details can be found here.