With the news that Wonderland, a new original Broadway musical was closing, my friend decided to purchase tickets before the final curtain on Sunday.
The musical tells the story of a woman named Alice (Janet Dacal), who is down and out after separating from her husband, being stuck at a dead-end job, and failing to fulfill her dream of writing children’s books. She bumps her head and next thing you know, she’s in the trenches of Wonderland with characters such as the White Rabbit (Edward Staudenmayer), El Gato (aka the Cheshire Cat who is Latino and has lost his power to go invisible played by Jose Llana), the motown Caterpillar (E. Clayton Cornelious) and Jack, the White Knight (Darren Ritchie) along with his band of knights in training. The biggest twist in this story is that the Mad Hatter (Kate Shindle) is a woman who desires to take over Wonderland.
With a blah story-line and too many gimmicks, this musicals fails to capture the magic of Alice in Wonderland. If the writers could have picked one gimmick and gone with it instead of trying to fit social commentary (Tea Party joke), pop culture references (the boy band), Broadway references (Gypsy) and meta-references (“Disney owns the rights”).
Redeeming aspects of show include the stunning and imaginative costumes and the sheer talent of the actors. Although I hated the lack of focus with the many references, my favorite part came when the Queen of Hearts (Karen Mason) broke out into Gypsy during “Off with Their Heads” singing, “For me! For me! For me!” That was a showstopping number.
All in all, I would suggest that if you want to make a musical farce of the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, make it a farce and not a melodramatic story of finding your inner child.