New Victoria Theatre, Woking – until 8 April 2017
Wonderland might be a mad place in general – but it sure can clarify a few things for you as this wonderfully quirky musical based on Alice in Wonderland proves. When you first sit down and take in this bizarre but wonderfully performed musical you might think that you literally have gone mad in your own mind with the number of characters passing through and yet by the end you realise it actually made perfect sense. So maybe we are all a bit mad after all.
In this unique twist of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, Wonderland sees Alice all grown up and with everyday problems such as an ex-husband getting married and getting fired from her job – it seems that Alice is no longer a dreamer. But she is soon forced to visit Wonderland again to find herself and to save wonderland from the rule of the Queen of Hearts.
Directed by Lotte Wakeham, this is the perfect musical to sit watch with your kids, with its explosion of colour, a variety of increasingly interesting characters and music that is instantly likeable. The story might have been obviously padded out to extend its length, meaning that occasionally the pace slacks slightly and feels awkward in some moments such as during the number ‘I will Prevail’.
But the cast is strong – not least Kerry Ellis as Alice, whose character can come across as whiney and self centred, but Ellis is able to pull that back to something more warm and affectionate. Wendi Peters is also equally as strong as proved by ‘Off With Their Heads’ that it is a shame she isn’t used more often in the story. Natalie McQueen as the Mad Hatter also impresses, with a menacing performance as the Mad Hatter – who actually appears quite dangerous at times as revealed through her performance of ‘I Will Prevail’.
While the characters are over the top at times and the whole production has a vibe of a pantomime in places, there is still a strong message at the musical’s core that keeps the audience focused- always stay true to yourself, which might seem obvious but it is enforced enough to leave the audience wondering if they are being true to themselves or do we need to take a trip to Wonderland and go through the Looking Glass.
But overall, it is a fun, adventurous and playful musical that is strangely charming in its own way.