Kerry Ellis – Alice
Naomi Morris – Ellie
Stephen Webb – Jack
Dave Willetts – White Rabbit
Natalie McQueen – Mad Hatter
Wendi Peters – Queen of Hearts
Venue – Sunderland Empire
Date – Wednesday 1st February 2017
Wonderland is Wonderful
I had to start off with that statement, I have been very excited about seeing this show. A brand new musical with fully original songs, along with a very talented cast. A brand new Alice story with both Wonderland and the Looking Glass all combined.
Alice has just turned 4o years old, has a teenage daughter and still not adapted since her husband left her five years before it. Her life is a mess and she does not want to live in the real world anymore. It is that statement which them prompts a white rabbit appear and from that moment on we are transported to a totally different world.
In this world you can live care free and have tea all of the time, the best thing about entering Wonderland has to be how clever the show is to have the characters we all know and love from all of the adaptations of Alice’s adventures. But in a very clever and pretty subtle, as at times you try to work out who is who. The costume design was another impressive draw of the show, really helping with the new design for the characters.
Along with Alice her daughter Ellie and neighbour Jack both are on the adventure as well and both want to change things about themselves. I thought this was a very interesting aspect of the show, if you go through the looking glass you change and can become everything you are scared to be. Surely everyone feels like that at times, wanting to change and become a better version of themselves.
When we are introduced to the Mad Hatter things will change as Ellie wants to make a difference and get everyone to rebel against the Queen of Hearts who has quite an obsession with cutting off heads. If your head is cut off for the first time you must stay in Wonderland forever.
Now I really must mention the songs, they are heart filled and performed with such passion. They have real meaning and make a point, not something that happens with all songs that are found in musical theatre. I really do feel that this show has gone a step further in terms of having real meaning with the story and song combination and hits a lot of nerves when you are consumed by it sitting in your seat.
Kerry Ellis is outstanding. I have been lucky enough to see her on stage twice before this (Murder Ballad and Wicked) and she really is an incredible performance with an amazing voice, she was perfect as Alice. Natalie McQueen as the Mad Hatter was fantastic as well really showing off an amazing vocal range, a standout moment in the production had to be them both singing together with “This Is Who I Am” which really was great to listen to and watch. I could not help but relate this one to Wicked and “For Good”. Naomi Morris is an outstanding young performer and more than held her own in the show, an incredible voice and acting ability I am looking forward to seeing which direction her career heads in.
Wendi Peters as the Queen of Hearts is not on stage very often, but when she is on stage she totally owns it showing off incredible vocals. Dave Willetts was another who really stole moments as the White Rabbit with some rather amusing lines and reminding everyone he is an important rabbit. Ben Kerr as the March Hair was another standout performer as well. But in all honesty I really should be saying that about the whole cast!
This was only the second week of the tour as it had visited Edinburgh for its UK and European Premiere. I really hope that it is well received throughout the tour as I think it is a fantastic musical theatre show, with important thought provoking messages, engaging and memorable songs. I actually think it has the potential to be the next Wicked!
The tour is all around the UK until August 2017. Check out the Wonderland Website for dates!