Broadway's Wonderland Closes May 15; Tour Planned

By Kenneth Jones
15 May 2011

Janet Dacal
Janet Dacal
Photo by Paul Kolnik

Wonderland, the new musical that reinvents Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" for the 21st century, closes May 15 at Broadway's Marquis Theatre. A national tour of the pop-friendly show is in the works.

At close, the tale of a modern-day New York City mom who konks her head and is transported to a subterranean, pop-pastiche fantasyland will have played 31 previews and 33 performances.

Critics did not embrace this modern riff on the crazy world created by 19th-century British writer Carroll ("Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," 1865), who makes an appearance in Act Two (billed as "The Victorian Gentleman") of the show by Gregory Boyd (book and direction), Frank Wildhorn (music) and Jack Murphy (book and lyrics).

Despite this multimillion dollar loss, Wildhorn is not through with Broadway. His musical Bonnie and Clyde is being aimed for Broadway (by producer Jerry Frankel and partners), and there is talk of a coming Broadway revival of the musical Jekyll & Hyde. No official announcements have been made.



Previews for Wonderland began March 21 toward an opening of April 17. A cast album was released May 3.

The musical's lead producer is David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts (Judy Lisi, president and CEO), located in Tampa, FL, where Wonderland had its world premiere in 2009 followed by an engagement at Houston's Alley Theatre, where director Boyd is artistic director. It returned for a second Tampa engagement in early 2010 and then had a summer 2010 workshop before Broadway.

Wonderland stars Janet Dacal (In the Heights) as Alice, Darren Ritchie (Little Shop of Horrors, Thoroughly Modern Millie) as White Knight, E. Clayton Cornelious (The Scottsboro Boys, A Chorus Line) as Caterpillar, Jose Llana (Spelling Bee, Flower Drum Song) as El Gato, Karen Mason (Hairspray, Mamma Mia!) as Queen of Hearts, Kate Shindle (Legally Blonde, Cabaret, Jekyll and Hyde) as Mad Hatter, Carly Rose Sonenclar (Les Misérables, Little House on the Prairie) as Chloe, Edward Staudenmayer (Spamalot, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me) as White Rabbit and Danny Stiles (regional productions of Guys and Dolls and Sister Act: The Musical) as Morris.

 

Kate Shindle as The Mad Hatter.
photo by Paul Kolnik

The ensemble includes April Berry, Grady McLeod Bowman, Joey Calveri, Sae La Chin, Mallauri Esquibel, Derek Ferguson, Wilkie Ferguson, Laura Hall, Natalie Hill, Lauren Lim Jackson, Morgan James, Ryan Link, Kate Loprest, Renee Marino, Heather Parcells, Stefan Raulston, Julius Anthony Rubio and Tanairi Vasquez. The show's book is by Gregory Boyd and Jack Murphy. Choreography is by Marguerite Derricks.

"It's my most eclectic score by far," Wildhorn told Playbill.com earlier this year. "It's also the score that brings me back to my real pop roots…what I used to do for a living in the '80s. If you're going to go to a place called Wonderland, it's a phantasmagorical place, so you really can set your own rules, and in fact, if you establish that the rules are going to be a rule of eclecticism, and you're consistent with that, you can go anywhere from Latin to jazz, from literally classical to boy-band. You can do all of those things because each of these characters has their own musical identity and musical vocabulary. Again, you can't do that in any other show because you have to be consistent with the musical's vocabulary of the place and time that you're in. But once you go into Fantasyland, that changes."

The composer of the musicals The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Civil War, Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde and Camille Claudel, among others, explained the first seed of the show. "I came up with this concept when I was running a division of Atlantic Records in the early 2000s," he said. "[My former wife] Linda [Eder] and I used to live on 87th and Riverside, and there was an elevator and the elevator was always broken, and I always used to joke that if the elevator worked, it would go down a thousand floors under the apartment and we'd find Wonderland."

The design team features Neil Patel (set), Susan Hilferty (costume), Paul Gallo (lighting), Peter Hylenski (sound) and Sven Ortel (video and projection). Patel recently took Playbill Video on a backstage tour of the Marquis Theatre.

Wonderland is produced by the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts (Judy Lisi, President and CEO), Franzblau Media Inc., Nederlander Presentations, Inc., The Knights of Tampa Bay (David Scher, Hinks Shimberg), Michael Speyer, Bernie Abrams, Jay Harris, Larry and Kay Payton, June and Tom Simpson, Independent Presenters Network and Sonny Everett Productions LLC.

Ticket prices range $49-$132. All prices include a $2 facilities fee.

Tickets to Wonderland - A New Alice. A New Musical are available through www.Ticketmaster.com or by calling (877) 250-2929, and in person at the Marquis Theatre box office, 1535 Broadway between 45th & 46th Streets.

For more information on the musical, visit www.WonderlandOnBroadway.com.

 

View highlights from the show: