Reviewed by Tricia Shaw
I took my daughter (aged 12) to the opening night of Wonderland at Milton Keynes Theatre. We had an enjoyable evening even though it was nothing like we were expecting.
Wonderland is a new musical based upon the characters in the story “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll. However, don’t go expecting to see the well-known tale as this is definitely very different. It begins in the real world on Alice’s (Kerry Ellis) birthday and her day is just going from bad to worse. Whilst talking to her daughter, Ellie (Naomi Morris), a white rabbit appears and they chase it. Ellie goes into the lift that is supposedly out of order and Alice and their neighbour Jack follow her down to Wonderland. In addition to the White Rabbit (Dave Willetts) the characters that they meet include Caterpillar, Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse, Humpty Dumpty, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee and of course the Queen of Hearts who is fond of jam tarts and cutting off heads! The Looking Glass also makes an appearance but again it is quite different from the book as when they pluck up the courage to walk through the mirror they return with their hidden traits revealed. As the plot unfolds you begin to wonder if they will survive the Queen’s arbitrary trial and be able to leave or if they will end up with their heads cut off and stuck there forever.
Once you get past the disappointment that it is not the story you were expecting it is an interesting plot with some cliché moments. There are some fantastic songs and music played by the live orchestra. The dancing was great fun to watch although some of the timing seemed a little out in places. I did find it hard to hear the words in some of the louder songs and sitting in the circle we were dazzled by the stage lights as they shone into the audience after the tea party and at the end of the show. It definitely has a pantomime feel to it at times although without the audience participation.
The scenery was well devised using perspective to excellent affect; the tea party table and Alice’s flat were particularly impressive. The costumes were also well designed and provided a great deal of colour on the stage.
My favourite character was the Queen of Hearts (Wendi Peters); she has an excellent voice and she portrayed her character sensationally. My daughter’s favourite, however, was Caterpillar (Kayi Ushe) because he was amusing and she liked the concept of the dancers playing his legs.
For a taste of what you will experience check out the website: wonderlandthemusical.com
Wonderland is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 22nd July 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes or call the box office on 0844 8717652.
Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK9 3NZ