Frank Wildhorn’s musical retelling of the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice in Wonderland arrives at the Regent Theatre.
The story follows a magical journey of self-discovery that offers hope at the bottom of a lift shaft. A relatable Alice is living in modern day times, struggling with modern day troubles and waiting for a hero to save her from the worst day of her life. Breaking with tradition, Alice does not follow the White Rabbit into Wonderland alone, instead she is accompanied by her daughter, Ellie and neighbour, Jack. Alice soon discovers that Wonderland is not so different from the world she left behind. Even there, she needs a hero to save the day but this time she must be the hero.
Director, Lotte Wakeham, and Assistant Director, Jordan Murphy, fill the stage with talent. The audience can survey the entire stage and never be met with anything but action and entertainment.
The entire cast deliver strong performances with Coronation Street favourite, Wendi Peters, stunning the audience with her breathtaking vocals as the Queen of Hearts. The transformative Alice, played by West End star Kerry Ellis, has the audience rooting for her with her believable portrayal of a struggling mother. The audience thoroughly enjoyed Stephen Webb’s evolutionary change from Jack the reliable, yet forgettable, neighbour into Jack the charming would-be hero. His performance of One Knight is reminiscent of Maxwell Caulfield in Grease 2. Naomi Morris’ depiction of Ellie is truly fantastic and a pleasure to watch.
The standout performance is Natalie McQueen as the Mad Hatter. The character’s development is delivered excellently and the powerhouse song of the show manifests itself in Alice and the Mad Hatter’s duet, ‘This is Who I Am’. Something chart worthy happens from the culmination of their pitch perfect voices, passionate performances and Jack Murphy’s liberating lyrics.
The lighting and stage design suit the production to a tea, giving a clear distinction between the real world and Wonderland. On Tuesday night there were intermittent times when the musical accompaniment masked some of the vocals, although it did not ruin the overall experience.
Wonderland is an example of how magical a re-imagination of a classic tale can be. It is perfect viewing for people of all ages who want to experience an evening in another world. The catchy songs will have you tapping your toes throughout. And every member of the cast and crew deserved the standing ovation received at the end.
You can take a trip down the rabbit hole, and fall in love with Wonderland, at the Regent Theatre until July 15.