Wonderland- Palace Theatre

Wonderland

Palace Theatre, Manchester

Reviewed on Friday 28th April 2017 by Sebastian Singh

★★★★

Wonderland 2

Photo Credit: Ambassador Theatre Group.

Based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Wonderland is set in the modern day, where Alice is a disillusioned mother who desperately wants to escape from her drab world. Wonderland is full of colour, characters and dreams- will it help Alice to discover her true self?

The music in this show by Frank Wildhorn (Music) and Jack Murphy (Lyrics) is varied throughout and has a strong pop and rock edge to it. Very catchy songs and full of character, they were a joy to listen to. Lotte Wakeham (Director) has created a fantasy world that reflects the madness of the stories that Carroll wrote. Lucie Pankhurst’s choreography links into this and is very contemporary allowing for lots of layers of performance to occur on stage at the same time.

It feels different to anything I have seen before, I wonder whether it is too clever or ahead of its time to be recognised widely but for me it pushes the boundaries of musical theatre which is always very exciting. Andrew Riley’s set design is fantastic; he takes us from the dull and mundane lives many get stuck in, to the explosion of life and colour in Wonderland. It cleverly marries Nick Riching’s lighting design which helps to create illusions and add lots of flair and quirkiness to the production.

The ensemble brought variety of character and lots of energy, and the madness was certainly channelled through them. Harmonies in songs such as “Finding Wonderland” were spine-tingling and showed the talent in this company. Naomi Morris did a great job as Ellie and is a very strong upcoming actress. Stephen Webb is very strong as the shy and reserved turned heartthrob, Jack; “One Knight” was a great crowd-pleaser. Wendi Peters is sublime as the Queen of Hearts- her comic timing is excellent and she is note perfect in her songs.

Kerry Ellis is a wonderful Alice; she is strong, brings such warmth, excitement and emotion to the part and vocally she is incredible. Her voice really suits the music of this show and is wonderful to listen to. Natalie McQueen stands out here- “Mad Hatter” and “I Will Prevail” were outstanding numbers in the production showing her great range and acting ability. Her character is so crazy that I can only explain her as ‘exploding’ on stage. How she gets through a two-show day is beyond me! She easily slips between the two personalities of her character which is very impressive to watch. One of my favourite moments was the Mad Hatter and Alice duet “This is Who I Am”- it was excellent and received huge applause from the audience.

This show has themes and ideas for adults but has energy, life and crazy characters for children to enjoy! It is a show that can be enjoyed by all and you should definitely get yourself a ticket!

This production is touring until August 2017.

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