Birthdays have a funny habit of reappearing every year.
And each year, the same panic arises: what present do I get them?
My family usually feel this strain the most as I never know what I want for my special day. However, this year Wonderland was coming to The King’s. What a perfect time to try something new, no?
Before taking my seat, I had assumed that Frank Wildhorn’s musical version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland would have a modern twist and would somehow have a dark edge due to this. After five minutes into the show, I realised I was exactly right.
Alice was no young girl who simply fell down a rabbit hole; she was a divorced mother who couldn’t handle the real world. Still helplessly in love with her emotionally abusive ex-partner, Alice relishes the thought of staying in Wonderland where real life problems won’t affect her. However, the goofy boy-next-door love interest and her far more mature daughter, Ellie, would not let her stay. Throughout the musical Alice learns she cannot live in the past and let her dreams continue to be dreams; she must face her reality and grow up.
So, yeah, maybe not dark enough to give your children nightmares, but dark enough to hit me in the heart.
If I was to keep this review short and sweet (which if you’re a regular, you know will never happen) then I’d simply say, “If you want to start introducing your children to the musical genre, Wonderland is the perfect starting point.” It’s fast paced, packed with songs, and the humour characters’ possess is perfect for young minds.
However, am I going to stop there? No.
The start of the musical was so fast paced I felt I was struggling to keep up. We had barely met the three main characters before they were thrust into Wonderland (by an elevator by the way – I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that) and then there was even less time before we were introduced to more wacky characters. The first half of the first act felt a bit mad, which I guess is fitting.
You could say that I’m becoming very picky in my old age, and studying story structure is making me a snob, and I’d have to agree. However, I do not believe that a musical targeted at children should face less criticism than any other musical. The structure of the story felt incredibly lost at the beginning of the show – as if there was too much to fit in – however by the intermission I could see the themes and characters unfold into a logical structure.
Furthermore, I was incredibly disappointed by the costume design. All costumes and makeup felt undeniably amateur. As an avid Strictly fan, I love a good frock, and I was completely disappointed with what I saw.
However, I felt the stage design was simple yet effective. Very simple changes were made yet it felt completely different.
The actors and actresses involved also impressed me. Each conveyed their character well and effortlessly made me laugh – my star being Naomi Morris who played Alice’s daughter, Ellie. Her moody teenager continuously cracked me up. Furthermore, the songs were incredibly entertaining and the good singing that accompanied it made Wonderland a breeze to enjoy.
But, the big question remains. The question that determines the success of Wonderland: would I go see it again? Would I actively seek out tickets and fight for the best seats in the house?
As I have alluded to throughout this review, if I was a mother with young children who loved Alice, I feel I’d be buying tickets again and again. However, as someone who was not the biggest fan to begin with, I don’t feel a pull to see it again. Does this mean Wonderland wasn’t an enjoyable experience – of course not! Did it ruin my birthday? Definitely not!
But don’t be expecting it in My Top 5 Musicals.
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