Reviewed by Laura Wragg
Legend has it that Lewis Carroll was inspired to write about Alice whilst visiting his sister in Brighton and, given that he frequented the Theatre Royal during his time here, it would seem the perfect setting for “Wonderland”, a modern musical interpretation of his two best known stories. It’s easy to imagine that the theatre has changed little since his time which makes the experience all the more special.
Set in the modern day, we’re introduced to Alice (Kerry Ellis) and her daughter Ellie in front of a tower-block. Her life clearly not going as planned, she wishes to escape the real world, at which point a big white rabbit appears and the story takes a more familiar direction via an out of service lift as opposed to Lewis Carroll’s famous rabbit hole. Alice and Ellie begin their adventures into Wonderland accompanied by Jack, a neighbour of theirs who has gone unnoticed by Alice. They arrive to the craziness that is Wonderland and we are introduced to all the favourite characters that we fondly remember from the story. The exceptional music and lyrics which tell the story from the much loved characters capture the audience and have you tapping, clapping and humming along in your seat.
The switch between the modern day and the classic of the tale was very well executed, although a few songs did last longer than felt needed, and the choreography felt a bit muddled in parts. The sets and movement between scenes were very well done and well timed by the cast and really brought the whole show to life.
Kerry Ellis was stellar and played a very convincing portrayal of Alice. She really captivated the audience with her powerful voice and did have you jaw dropped for some performances. A couple of standout characters for me were the Mad Hatter played by Natalie McQueen and the Caterpillar played by Kayi Ushe. Both played their parts exceptionally and really brought the play alive. Natalie’s voice was truly exceptional and did bring tears to my eyes. It was wonderful to see the Mad Hatter as a female role and have a new twist on the tale. Dave Willetts who played the White Rabbit was perfect for his role. He was funny, full of character and his voice was moving and incredible.
Wonderland is a must see musical. It’s full of love, laughter, adventure and best of all an exceptional musical score.
Tickets cost from £23.90 to £53.90 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Wonderland is at the Theatre Royal in Brighton from 30 May to 4 June 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/brighton or call the box office on 0844 871 7650.
Theatre Royal. New Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1SD | 0844 871 7650