Wonderland (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Wonderland (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 3rd April 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

I finished performing in Will Todd's opera Alice's Adventures in Wonderland on Friday and have already taken another trip down the rabbit hole to see the UK Tour of Wonderland- I see an Alice theme becoming part of my life!

Frank Wildhorn, composer of one of my favourite musicals Bonnie and Clyde has reworked the Classic tale of Alice into a contemporary story about finding your place in the world. The story follows single mother Alice (Kerry Ellis) who lives in a bleak city with her ridiculously mature daughter Ellie (Naomi Morris). Stuck in a rut after her manipulative ex-husband kicked all her confidence out of her, she seeks a life away from the real world. When a bunny which promises to take her out of her mundane life hops in front of her, it seems like the logical option to follow him down the hole... or lift! Joined by their neighbour Jack  (Stephen Webb) they end up in the magical and mysterious Wonderland.

The story is about self-belief and self-discovery and touches on some relevant issues. With Alice saying that "girls need to know that they should value themselves" and the rabbit expressing that "nothing can exist 'til you dream it first", it's sweet and heart warming.

Wonderland itself is bizarre, whimsical, quirky and truly bonkers. With all the well known characters such as the Queen and Hatter popping up throughout. Alice discovers that if she steps through the Looking Glass, she'll come out as a different version of herself. She toys with the idea of stepping through but is skeptical to return to the strong woman she was before.

Kerry Ellis is a star as Alice. Her vocals are faultless as she effortlessly belts out each number. Her stage presence is strong and it's joyful to watch her transformation throughout the show. Alongside Naomi Morris as her strong spirited daughter (who has a striking resemblance in voice and looks to Lilla Crawford) the pair create a lovely duo and a believable chemistry onstage.

For me the standout by far is Natalie McQueen. Her voice is off the charts and her scatty, feisty and extremely mad portrayal of the Hatter completely steals the show. She is compelling throughout and her facial expressions are enough to cure all types of illness!

Wendi Peters embraces the role of the evil Queen of Hearts well, mastering the comedic timing impeccably and showing off her superb singing voice. It's a shame how little time she is on stage  as it would be lovely to see her for more than a fleeting moment at a time. Nevertheless, her portrayal is wonderful.

The score is brilliant with wit, pace and just the right amount of craziness but the script is a little weak. At times it feels forced and cringey , with the dialogue not adding much to the show other than filling time. Personally I feel that the overall downfall is that there is not a clear target audience. There are times where it seems better for young adults and adults but others where it's almost pantomime like and seems aimed at very young children. There is a lot of potential but I think there needs to be a little work done to make the show fully solid and fluid.

The music is engaging and enjoyable. The spectacular performers and witty moments make it a really enjoyable show to watch and a fun family night out.

Wonderland is on at the New Victoria Theatre until Saturday April 8th