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Wonderland Review: Bristol

WONDERLAND REVIEW BRISTOL HIPPODROME

WONDERLAND REVIEW

at The Bristol Hippodrome

Monday 8th May – Saturday 13th May 2017

Did you know that Lewis Carrol’s ‘proper’ job was as an Oxford University maths tutor? And yet he still found time to knock out a work of fiction which hasn’t been out of print since it was published in 1865? This week, thirteen year old Jamifly and I went to The Bristol Hippodrome to see Wonderland, the musical which is loosely based on Carrol’s enduring children’s classics, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the looking Glass.

TV and West End star Wendi Peters (Queen of Hearts), aka Cilla Battersby-Brown from Coronation Street, headlines Wonderland alongside Dave Willetts (White Rabbit), one of the UK’s foremost musical theatre stars having played numerous leading roles including Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.

They’re joined for this leg of the inaugural UK tour by West End and Broadway leading lady Kerry Ellis (Alice), best known for playing Elphaba in Wicked.

WONDERLAND SYNOPSIS

A stressed out, modern-day Alice is living with her daughter Ellie in a drab, monochrome tower block. It’s her fortieth birthday and on this fateful day she learns that her divorce is final, discovers her car’s been stolen and ends up losing her job. Daughter Ellie follows a human-size white rabbit (Dave Willetts) into a lift (as you do) and the pair of them end up in the crazy Technicolor Queendom of Wonderland along with Jack, Alice’s admirer from a neighbouring flat. Alice is fed up with reality and thinks she might find a guru to guide her or a hero to rescue her here in Wonderland – or perhaps she’ll learn to draw upon her own inner reserves. Jack, Ellie and Alice are all given the opportunity to change aspects of their personality by going through the talking looking-glass.

 KERRY ELLIS AND STEPHEN WEBB IN WONDERLAND REVIEW BRISTOL HIPPODROME

WONDERLAND REVIEW

Contrasting with the monochromatic ‘real life’ opening scene, Wonderland is a bright Technicolor land of dreams. It feels like a mix of pantomime and The Wizard of Oz. Alice sports a pair of long royal-blue suede boots throughout and I’m half waiting for her to use them to transport herself home at any moment! The set, costumes and lighting are just as colourful and attention grabbing as I’d expect them to be in this magical land – three giant concentric, illuminated arcs with multi-coloured laser lighting suggest Wonderland’s rabbit burrow.

Kerry Ellis, famed for playing Elphaba in West End and Broadway productions, is a shining star with her fluent acting skills and superb, powerful voice.

Despite not having headline billing, daughter Naomi Morris plays a key role as Alice’s terribly sensible daughter, Ellie. Naomi’s acting skills are highlighted when she morphs from overly responsible kid to opinionated teen, whose embarrassment when her Mum reciprocates Jack’s crush is hilarious! When Alice is in awe because love interest Jack has just transformed into a rock star, the new, stroppy Ellie cuttingly delivers the line,

“from 100 years ago!”

I like her and her bad attitude makes us laugh, even though she brings to mind all the years I have ahead of me as future long-suffering mother of three teenage boys ? ? ?!

BAND SINGERS WONDERLAND REVIEW BRISTOL HIPPODROME

I thoroughly enjoy Natalie McQueen’s funny performances, both as likeable-crazy and then misguided-dictator Mad Hatter. Strutting along the huge illuminated dining table which doubles as a catwalk, at the drop of a mad hatter’s hat she misquotes Ellie’s questionable teenage knowledge to justify her unacceptable actions, shrieking,

“That’s how power works!”

Caterpillar (Kayi Ushe), is as chilled and laid back as they come, hypnotising us with his smooth voice and seductive dance moves, synchronising dance moves with four women of the ensemble, who helpfully provide him with a few extra legs!

In total contrast, Wendi Peters is the vocal, self-centered little Queen of Hearts who bustles in, petulantly demanding “tea-time” and “off with their heads” in her big spoken and singing voice. She makes us laugh and her tart munching antics make me hungry.

WENDY PETERS QUEEN OF HEARTS IN WONDERLAND REVIEW BRISTOL HIPPODROME

You can check prices or book tickets to Wonderland or other shows here*

WONDERLAND AGE SUITABILITY

This is a family show and I think it would be most entertaining for younger children from around five upwards.

THE VERDICT?

I’ve been looking forward to Wonderland and I want to love it but it doesn’t quite work for me: perhaps because the story is predictable with overtly moralistic messages about standing on your own two feet and everybody being a hero in their own way. I guess I’m too ancient and cynical to be the target audience but I’m pleased to say that I seem to be in the minority as the audience reaction is positive. A partial standing ovation becomes complete as soon as Kerry Ellis comes to take her well-deserved bow. Not a storyline I could get my teeth into but lots of energy, fun, colour and laughs nonetheless!

As usual, please do share your thoughts about the show or our review in the comments below. If you’d like more information or would like to book tickets to Wonderland or other shows, click here*.

*Many thanks if you book anything through the affiliate link above as it provides a small commission at no extra cost to you which goes towards funding this blog.

BOOK TICKETS TO WONDERLAND

WONDERLAND
Monday 8th- Saturday 13th May
Evenings @ 7.30pm
Matinees on Wed & Sat @ 2.30pm
Concessions available at certain performances

Click here for a complete diary listing of shows at the Bristol Hippodrome

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WONDERLAND REVIEW BRISTOL HIPPODROME

WONDERLAND CAST & CREDITS

Directed by Lotte Wakeham
Produced by Neil Eckersley,
Music by Frank Wildhorn
Lyrics by Jack Murphy
Book by Jack Murphy & Gregory Boyd
UK adaptation by Ava Eldred
WENDI PETERS and DAVE WILLETTS headline WONDERLAND and West End & Broadway leading lady KERRY ELLIS* guest stars in select venues.
Completing the principal cast are:-
Stephen Webb as Jack / White Knight, Natalie McQueen as Mad Hatter, Kayi Ushe as Caterpillar, Dominic Owen as Cheshire Cat, Ben Kerr as March Hare and  Carolyn Maitland as Alternate Alice / Mad Hatter.
They’re joined by an ensemble comprising Sharif Afifi, Toyan Thomas Browne, Divine Cresswell, Jessica Croll, Francesca Lara Gordon, Benjamin McMillan, Bree Smith, Benjamin Yates and swings Lewis Easter and Collette Guitart.
Click here to book tickets*.

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DISCLOSURE: WE RECEIVED TICKETS FOR PURPOSES OF THIS REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY/OUR OWN.
*POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS WHICH PROVIDE A SMALL COMMISSION ON BOOKINGS AT NO EXTRA COST TO THE USER AND HELP FUND THIS BLOG.

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