Yesterday Emmy and I headed off to the New Wimbledon Theatre to see Wonderland.
Wonderland is a musical mix of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.
In this story Alice hasn’t been to Wonderland before, she begins the show celebrating her 40th birthday as a very unhappy lady, a divorced single Mum whose life is a jumbled mix of one disaster after another. Her ex-husband who she still pines for is remarrying, she has her car stolen, is fired from her job, loses her car keys and forgets to buy dinner…all in one very bad day. Who says birthdays are supposed to be fun and happy events?
In a bid to cheer up her Mum and make the last of the day happy Ellie desperately tries to make her Mum see that pining for her ex-husband is pointless and she instead should start following her dreams. Alice has always wanted to be a writer and had a job she loved as a teacher but was made to give up those dreams by her controlling ex. She’s living in the past and refusing to change incase he should return. She doesn’t want to live in the real world as it’s just too hard.
Cue the appearance of the White Rabbit who Ellie chases to catch up with, they then both disappear into the lift which doesn’t work and go off to Wonderland. The white rabbit returns for Alice who goes off to rescue her daughter, followed by Jack who is a guy living in the same block of flats and who lusts after Alice, far too afraid to make his feeling known.
Once in Wonderland they come across all of the magical and wondrous characters who we are already familiar with from the book’s, loosely that is, they definitely aren’t the characters we all remember well: caterpillar, Cheshire cat, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and many more.
These characters were once humans living in the real world like Alice, they too no longer wanted to live there and ended up in Wonderland living their dreams…the White Rabbit was actually a Judge in his real job but always dreamed of being a Rabbit. Once in Wonderland they wanted to stay there and this was possible once they’d be beheaded by the Queen of Hearts; in Wonderland anything is possible so they’d regrow their heads and live forever in their dream world.
Ellie, a very sensible teenager is desperate to go home but her Mother who’s already having such a bad day sees Wonderland as her escape and wants to stay, while Jack is desperate to please in a bid to get noticed by Alice.
To return home they need to keep moving forward through Wonderland, forward means going through the Looking Glass where you change into a different you, once thought the Looking Glass you release your inhibitions and find yourself.
The whole theme to this musical is finding your true self so you can follow your dreams. Jack for example a meek and timid man dreams of being a singer and a hero, he returns from the Looking Glass resembling a boy band member full of charm and charisma tight jeans and all the right words to gain Alice’s attention….complete with 4 boy band back up singers who appear whenever he bursts into song – yes it’s just as cheesy as that sounds I’m afraid.
Without spoiling the full storyline, The Mad Hatter heads through the Looking Glass and then instead of drinking tea all time wants to overthrow the Queen and rule Wonderland herself.
Emmy was dancing in her seat the whole way though this show but although I did enjoy it the storyline was too thin leaving the characters very little to do other than introduce themselves and then go off again.
The songs were good but sadly they aren’t ones which you’ll find yourself humming along to on the journey home, almost instantly forgettable.
The actors were ALL great and portrayed their characters well even if some of those were a little cringe-worthy. Wendi Peters plays the Queen of Hearts and is actually on stage for less than 10 minutes this whole show, I personally think she’d be better cast as the Mad Hatter and having a more prominent role within the show.
Overall, it’s enjoyable but needs just a little more padding out in places, it’s over 2 hours long and at times the point/gist is rather vague in places with things repeated numerous times to fill space. Although the finale will have you toe tapping away in your seats and is a little longer than many other musical productions.
What I did notice was just how much the children in the audience loved it, Emmy bopped away the whole time and declared it amazing, as did other children I passed on the way out, all dressed up as Alice in Wonderland which for me is really what it is all about, not a show you would come to alone as an adult but definitely something you’d bring the kids to enjoy, and that they certainly will!
You can see a trailer of this show on the website: www.wonderlandthemusical.com
Disclaimer: We received tickets in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.