Take Me Back to Mad Hatter: Wonderland, With Janet Dacal as Alice, Begins on Broadway

By Kenneth Jones
March 21, 2011

Wonderland, the new musical that reinvents "Alice in Wonderland" for the 21st century, begins Broadway previews March 21 at the Marquis Theatre. Janet Dacal, of In the Heights, plays a modern-day Manhattan mom named Alice who sings a score by Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy.



Opening night is April 17. Gregory Boyd directs the original musical, billed as "a new spin on the classic story of Alice and her Looking-Glass world," inspired by the tales of Lewis Carroll. This time, Alice is "a modern-day woman who goes on a life-changing adventure far below the streets of New York City, where a colorful cast of strange but familiar characters help her rediscover what's really important."

The show had tryout engagements in Tampa, FL (twice) and Houston, where director Boyd is artistic director of the Alley Theatre.

Wonderland also stars 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.

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.

The show's cast album, from Masterworks Broadway, was recorded March 6 for a May release.

"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.

The producers of Wonderland - A New Alice. A New Musical (the official title) recently announced a student rush ticket policy. A limited number of $30 tickets (plus a $2 facility fee) will be available at the box office only, on the day of the performance, beginning when the box office opens for the day. Tickets subject to availability and a limit of two tickets can be purchased per valid college student ID.

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 now 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.