Every now and again something new comes along that you know is going to last. Wonderland is brand new, having made it’s debut in Edinburgh in January 2017 – but it’s an instant classic.
Adapted by Frank Wildhorn – it is based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland which the programme rightly points out has influenced everyone from Walt Disney to Monty Python, Tim Burton and generations of young readers. In Wonderland though, Alice is actually a single mum, her husband left her and it would appear that the real Alice left a long time before.
Finding herself truly unsatisfied and not wanting to live in the real world anymore Alice, along with her daughter and unlikely hero neighbour, finds herself following the white rabbit down the rabbit hole. And you can just imagine what’s down there, can’t you!
The opening is possibly the only part of the show that is drab. You meet Alice on her “Worst Day” and as her life continues to spiral downwards, it’s not long before a bright and clever set is revealed – with energetic and enthusiastic company members completing the almost instant transportation into Wonderland.
All the characters you know are there and are played exactly how you would imagine. There’s a segment in Act 1 where all the characters introduce themselves and number after number is just brilliant. Kayi Ushe is hilarious as a uber-cool Caterpillar which is followed by the Cat Show Shuffle which Dominic Owen leads a realistic band of cats. It’s around this point that you realise that it’s impossible to watch this musical without a huge smile on your face. Natalie McQueen is outstanding as the Mad Hatter – a truly superb role that many young ladies will be adding to their bucket list. Her skillful switch from incredibly lovely to absolutely insane is a joy to watch.
Also threatening to steal the show is young talent Naomi Morris as Ellie. She has a lot to do and does it extremely well. Wendi Peters is absolutely superb as the Queen of Hearts showcased evil intentions and long notes during her singing segments.
Kerry Ellis is very much allowed to steal the show in the lead role of Alice – comfortable and in control throughout. She is a household name in UK theatre – and proves exactly why no more than in the final scene – Finding Wonderland – where her incredible vocal ability completes a fabulously uplifting finale – framed in my favourite theatre image of the year, with the full cast in costume behind, stood in the wonderful set. It’s a stunning end to a great new musical.
There are too many highlights to list – you absolutely have to go and see what will almost certainly become one of your favourite new musicals.
To buy tickets visit for the run at Regent Theatre, Stoke On Trent, from this link right here.
The show is on tour until August – see: www.wonderlandthemusical.com