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.
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.
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.
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 ? ? ?!
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.
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WONDERLAND AGE SUITABILITY
This is a family show and I think it would be most entertaining for younger children from around five upwards.
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!
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WONDERLAND CAST & CREDITS
Produced by Neil Eckersley,
Music by Frank Wildhorn
Lyrics by Jack Murphy
Book by Jack Murphy & Gregory Boyd
UK adaptation by Ava Eldred
Enjoyed our WONDERLAND REVIEW? Then why not check out our most show reviews below on Practically Perfect Mums?
DISCLOSURE: WE RECEIVED TICKETS FOR PURPOSES OF THIS REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MY/OUR OWN.
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