- Not to be confused with Alice in Wonderland (musical)
Wonderland pre-broadway logo
|Basis||Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Through the Looking-Glass
Wonderland: A New Alice, formerly called Wonderland: Alice's New Musical Adventure, is a musical with a book by Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd, lyrics by Murphy, and music by Frank Wildhorn. The story, a contemporary version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, is set in New York City and focuses on writer Alice Cornwinkle and her 10-year-old daughter Chloe.
Preliminary workshops and readings
Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy previously collaborated on The Civil War, Waiting For The Moon, The Count of Monte Cristo, and the unproduced musical Havana, and have written songs for Linda Eder. Gregory Boyd has directed productions of Wildhorn's Svengali (for which he penned the lyrics), Jekyll & Hyde, and The Civil War (for which he contributed lyrics and dialogue with Murphy).
Wonderland is the first production mounted by the Broadway Genesis Project, whose goal is to help create new theatre works specifically for the Tampa Bay market, after which they may be staged in other performing arts centers or move to Broadway.
Wildhorn began working on the project in the late 1990s. He initially conceived an Alice similar to the one in the 1951 Disney animated feature and envisioned his then-fiancé, Brandi Burkhardt, in the title role, but as time passed, the two ended their engagement, and the role seemed to be passed to another Wildhorn leading lady Lauren Kennedy. In 2005, Wildhorn announced that the musical would premiere in 2006 in Europe, but this did not occur. The show was workshopped starring Burkhardt in the title role in Tampa, Florida in 2007, with a presentation of four songs (these still appear in the show in some form). The project then focused on the scripts, and TBPAC agreed to make the show its first project.
In the summer of 2007, at a "Wildhorn & Friends" concert in Graz, Austria, Burkhardt premiered the song "Once More I Can See", with orchestra, and Wildhorn announced that the show would premiere in Tampa in 2009. The project had its first reading in Manhattan on March 20, 2009. It featured Lauren Kennedy as Alice, Julie Brooks as Chloe, Nikki Snelson as the Mad Hatter, and Julia Murney as the Queen.
Tampa and Houston (2009–2010)
Gregory Boyd was chosen to direct the production, Marguerite Derricks was chosen to choreograph, set designs were by Neil Patel, costume designs were by Susan Hilferty and lighting designs were by Paul Gallo. In April 2009, auditions were held in Manhattan and at what was then the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Casting was complete by August. The cast included Janet Dacal as Alice, Karen Mason as the Queen of Hearts, Nikki Snelson as the Mad Hatter, Eugene Fleming as the Caterpillar, Jose Llana as El Gato, Ed Staudenmayer as the White Rabbit, Darren Ritchie as Jack/White Knight, and Julie Brooks as Chloe. The creative team also included projection designer Sven Ortel. Rehearsals began on October 12, 2009.
Wonderland began previews on November 24, 2009 and opened on December 5 at Ferguson Hall in The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida, where it ran through January 3, 2010. The musical next moved to the Alley Theatre, Houston, starting in previews on January 15, 2010 and opening on January 20, running through February 14. The musical was budgeted at USD$3.3 million. According to a report by Straz Center, "the estimated local economic impact...is more than $8.1 million", and noted that "nearly 750 full and part-time jobs [were] impacted". The show played to 96% capacity in Tampa.
The production transferred to Houston, opening January 20, 2010 at the Alley Theatre, with previews beginning January 15. It closed on February 14, 2010. The book was rewritten after the Tampa engagement. At the time of the Houston opening, Boyd said: "The book we have now is quite different from the book that opened in Tampa. And we're putting in more changes, including four new songs." Producer Judy Lisi discussed the decisions being made about the show's next step: "Does it make sense to tour it first? Does it make sense to bring it in (to Broadway)? I really want to see how far we get in Houston to be able to determine the next stage of the development."
The show had a new subtitle: Wonderland: A New Alice. A New Musical and the book was drastically re-written, the roles of the Caterpillar, Chloe and the Mad Hatter were recast (with E. Clayton Cornelius, Carly Rose Sonenclar and Kate Shindle), a character (Morris, the Hatter's side-kick, the March Hare) was added, and a character was deleted (Jabberwock). The revised score featured many of the new songs from the 2010 Houston production, as well as re-implementing the song "Don't Wanna Fall in Love", and adding two others.
The musical premiered on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre on April 17, 2011, with previews beginning March 21. The cast included Janet Dacal as Alice, Darren Ritchie as White Knight and Jack/Lewis Carroll, Jose Llana as El Gato, Karen Mason as the Queen of Hearts, Kate Shindle as the Mad Hatter, Carly Rose Sonenclar as Chloe, and Edward Staudenmayer as the White Rabbit. Tituss Burgess was originally cast as the Caterpillar but was later replaced by E. Clayton Cornelious. Boyd directs, Derricks choreographs, and the design team is the same, except for the addition of sound designer Peter Hylenski.
On February 6, it was reported that the musical was USD$10 million short of its $14 million captilization. The producers, however, announced that "The show is on schedule and we are very thrilled about the work that was done in Florida." The New York Post reported that several producers wanted to bring in additional help. The Nederlanders engaged Scott Ellis to restage the musical and Rupert Holmes to help shape the book. The production closed on May 15, 2011, after 31 previews and 33 performances. On closing night, Ritchie proposed to Dacal on stage, and she accepted.
Masterworks Broadway released an original cast recording of the show on May 3, 2011.
The story, in the Broadway production, was as follows:
- Act 1
Author Alice Stetson and her daughter have just moved to Queens, New York so that Alice can have some space from her husband, Jack. Her young daughter, Chloe, laments about the move and her family's demise, as Alice notes that her life isn't going in the direction she had hoped ("Worst Day Of My Life"). Edwina, Jack's mother, is cooking dinner for Chloe. Alice, who has just hit her head on the light of the building's service elevator, receives her children's book manuscript back from the publishers, who have coldly rejected it, saying it is too dark for children. She sadly makes a comment that Alice in Wonderland, the book Edwina had been reading to Chloe, was dark. As she lies down, she is awoken by a white rabbit who she follows down to Wonderland ("Down the Rabbit Hole").
In Wonderland, she encounters strange people and creatures who are dressed in the same dresses that the original Alice in Wonderland is known to wear ("Welcome to Wonderland"). She tries to discover why she has been brought there, and finds a mysterious drink ("Drink Me"). She then encounters the Caterpillar, whose advice is to follow in the footsteps of El Gato (the Cheshire Cat) to find out who she is ("Advice from a Caterpillar" and "Go With the Flow"). El Gato believes himself to be invisible, but he has lost the power; Alice learns from the Caterpillar that the characters in Wonderland "don't have the heart to tell him". El Gato leads her to the White Rabbit, when White Knight makes a grand entrance. He and his cohorts promises to save her at all means ("One Knight") and invites her to the Tea Party ("The Mad Tea Party").
At the party, the Mad Hatter announces with flair that she intends to rule things in Wonderland ("The Mad Hatter"). She reads Alice's tea leaves, commenting on Alice's bad qualities as the Queen arrives. The Queen announces that she is the ruler and all must obey her, or it will be off with your head ("All Hail the Queen"). Alice promises to take the Queen a brand new kingdom – the kingdom of Queens (a reference to her home in New York). The Hatter, angry, goes with Morris the March Hare to find her revenge on Alice who is a threat to the Hatter's plans. The Rabbit, El Gato, Caterpillar and Jack the White Knight all agree to help Alice find the service elevator that brought her there. Alice just wants to go home, as she and Chloe, in their new apartment, yearn for the way things used to be ("Home").
The Mad Hatter, who uses the name "Maddie", and the March Hare ascend the rabbit hole to Chloe's bedroom. They convince Chloe to come with them to help with Alice and Jack's marriage treatment to bring the family closer together ("A Nice Little Walk"). Chloe goes with them to Wonderland. However, the Hatter takes Chloe to the Land of the Looking-Glass as a prisoner, the Hatter's side of the kingdom, given to her by the Queen of Hearts, where she captures and turns her prisoners' "brains to tapioca". Jack agrees to help Alice in exchange for a kiss, as the White Rabbit makes mention of this news. Together, Alice, Jack, Rabbit, El Gato and the Caterpillar agree to break through the Looking-Glass to save Chloe ("Through the Looking Glass").
- Act 2
Inside the Hatter's war room, she locks Chloe in the tallest dungeon. She also captures the Caterpillar, El Gato and the White Knight as they fight to free Alice (and the Rabbit). The Hatter declares she will win her battle ("I Will Prevail"). Alice finds herself in front of a door with the comedy and tragedy masks. She notices above the door the word "THEATRICAL" (which changes spell HATTER and ALICE, with the letter "E" rotating between the two names) though she misses the clue the first time, this is when the Rabbit tells Alice that he can turn back time by just "winding back his watch". Alice tells the Rabbit to get captured and use the watch to save everyone. After the Rabbit leaves, Alice enters and encounters Lewis Carroll (the Victorian Gentleman). He encourages her to write something that is important to her, something she dreamt of ("I Am My Own Invention").
The Hatter delivers the list of executions to the Queen of Hearts, 7 beheadings, with the names of 6 of the characters and a "wildcard" slot (meant for the Queen). The Hatter eggs her on that she is the only one who can say "Off with their heads" with such flair, and convinces the Queen to allow the beheadings to take place in the land of the Looking-Glass. The Queen delights in the truth of her signature phrase ("Off With Their Heads"). Lewis Carroll leads Alice to a hall of mirrors, where she believes she has found Chloe. However, she realizes she is talking to a young Alice. She finally learns why she was brought to Wonderland: to remember and love who she is and was ("Once More I Can See").
Back at the prison, the Rabbit is captured. When Morris the March Hare asks for any valuables he wants them to keep safe, he hands over the watch. When Jack asks why he was captured, he explains about the watch to save them, but the prisoners are dismayed at the news. Jack tells the Rabbit to find dismiss his fears, that they will get the watch back, but they must attack the very men they are trying to save. They defeat the prison guards, who are Jack's Boy-Band Knights that were transformed after the Hatter brought them under her control, and return them to their normal mindset when they get the watch back. They free the rest of the guards from the Hatter's command, leaving her defenseless. The boy-band, Jack, Caterpillar, Rabbit and El Gato save Alice from the dungeon and learn that together, anything is possible ("Together"). Morris hands over the beheading list to Jack, where they learn of the Hatter's plans to overthrow everyone, including the Queen. When the Hatter arrives to taunt Alice with a final riddle, Alice learns that the Hatter is the alter-ego of herself. Alice did not come to Wonderland when she was supposed, due to her mother's death and her childhood coming to an end, over two decades prior. Due to this, the Hatter was created out of every bad moment Alice has ever faced in her life. The Queen, learning of the Hatter's plan to behead her, banishes the Hatter to the underground world. Alice, who tries to defend the Hatter, is held at knife-point until Jack saves her. However, he is brought down to the underworld as well. Alice is happy that she may leave with Chloe, but the two lament Jack's death as they go home ("Home (Reprise)")
Alice awakens from her dream when her husband, Jack, arrives with Chloe's forgotten doll and claiming it is his White Knight syndrome that drove him there and his desire to protect his family since they're under a new roof. Alice embraces him and realizes what she has in front of her eyes, the family is together once again. As they all head down for dinner, she remains behind for a moment to write down what she has learned from her adventures in Wonderland, but especially what she learned from the rabbit, that time is fleeting, and from her dream: "ordinary magic happens every single day", and it is all around us in the simplest ways ("Finding Wonderland").
The main characters are listed, described, and who played them in the original Broadway show
Alice - The main protagonist of the story who had recently split up with her husband Jack and moved away with her daughter Chloe. Alice is not only stubborn, but is adamant not to believe the world of Wonderland around her and the love she feels toward Jack/White Knight despite their differences. Played by Janet Dacal.
White Knight - Alice's 'hero' or so he wants to be. White Knight, in Alice's mind, is based on her Ex-husband Jack and is determined to help Alice get back home for the price of a kiss. He is both brave and sentimental and even after being capture still drives Alice to save her daughter and get back home. Played by Darrin Ritchie.
Caterpillar - A mysterious creature that always speaks in riddles. Though he may think he's helping he doesn't explain his meanings of the riddles that he speaks. Even through the twisting of words he helps Alice along the way on her adventure. Played by E. Clayton Cornelious.
El Gato - An enthusiastic creature that Alice runs into in Wonderland. He's a take on the Cheshire cat and shares the same characteristics. Except of course floating and disappearing; though he doesn't quite know that. Played by Jose Llana.
Queen of Hearts - The queen of Hearts isn't exactly cruel as much as she is a pawn. She acts in control of the world Wonderland, but doesn't know that she is just being used. Yet she is a very proud robust women who isn't afraid of sprouting her accusations. Played by Karen Mason.
Mad Hatter - The Mad Hatter is the main antagonist in this story and is using the queen to rise to power in Wonderland. She is the definition of back stabbing and isn't precisely 'all there' after all she is the MAD hatter. She's always one step ahead of everyone else, and isn't afraid to show it. Played by Kate Shindle.
Chloe - Chloe is Alice's daughter who wants nothing more than a functional family and will risk anything to get it. She's depressed to be living without her dad and shuts herself away from her mom in the beginning. Is the damsel in distress. Played by Carly Rose Sonenclar.
White Rabbit - The white rabbit is the one that took Alice into Wonderland in the first place and is willing enough to help Alice get back home. He is skiddish and yet brave enough to save his friends when they needed it most. Played by Edward Staudenmayer.
Morris - Morris is the Mad Hatters henchmen and is, like the queen, being played. The Mad Hatter uses him for her dirty deeds but he follows her orders pretty willingly. He is just about the exact opposite of the White Rabbit. Played by Danny Stiles.
The musical numbers from the 2011 Broadway production are as follows:
† - Lyric or music changes, different from the Broadway cast recording. †† - Does not appear on the Broadway cast recording. ' '
The songlist from the 2011 Pre-Broadway Tampa Engagement:
† - Different music or form from the Broadway production. †† - Cut prior to Broadway production. ---
The songlist from the 2009 Tampa World Premiere:
The songlist from the 2010 Houston's Alley Theatre Production:
- Tampa and Houston reviews
John Fleming of the St. Petersburg Times expressed mixed feelings about the production. He called it "a visual feast, with dazzling costumes, marvelously funky dance and a flashy, high-tech production design," thought it "is loaded with talent onstage," and said the score "boasts one insanely catchy pop song after another." He continued, "But Wonderland also has a problem: It makes almost no sense. The book needs a major rewrite, and not just a tweak here and there. What Wildhorn and his colleagues...or somebody else can do to bring at least a measure of dramatic logic to the musical will ultimately decide its fate." He felt a scene in which Alice meets author Lewis Carroll "appears to be an attempt to give the show emotional depth", but "it is totally out of place, like dropping a scene from one of Wildhorn's Gothic pop operas into Legally Blonde," and the character of the Mad Hatter was a "casualty of the misconceived book" because "the story is so preposterous." He noted "El Gato and the jazzy Caterpillar ... have great solos to introduce Alice to Wonderland, but then have little to do the rest of the show."
Walt Belcher of the Tampa Tribune called it "a fun ride" but observed, "At this stage in the play's ongoing development, the parts seem greater than the whole as there are characters and songs along the way that excite and delight but there may be one or two more ballads than necessary." He thought Janet Dacal, as Alice, "so appealing in the role that we'd follow her anywhere. With a strong voice, great dance moves and flair for comedy, Dacal is a perfect fit for the role." Variety wrote that the musical "offers pleasures from an engaging cast, top Broadway designers and a catchy score that returns Wildhorn to his pop music roots" but felt "the story is confusing almost from the start, especially in the messier second act, when it drifts around and then rushes to an unemotional conclusion....[T]here's not yet a delightful or tear-filled resolution".
The review of the Houston run in The Houston Chronicle stated: "The show boasts the appeal of Boyd's splashy staging, a talented cast led by vivacious star-in-the-making Janet Dacal and some striking design elements, including spectacular use of projections...Wildhorn delivers his trademark, conventional pop sound, boosted by some lively rhythms and catchy hooks here and there....Dacal is a find as Alice. Her singing is strong and sure, she moves well and projects spunky presence. ... The show's visuals are its strong suit. Neil Patel's sets are ingenious if somewhat slapdash in stylistic consistency....As a work in progress, Wonderland no doubt will continue improving. Even as it stands, for all the shortcomings, it's likely to please many who'll be happy enough with its bursts of flash, volume and grab-bag of references to those beloved Alice books."
The show received negative reviews. However, The New York Times reviewer Charles Isherwood wrote that the musical is "peppily inspirational" and the "book displays flashes of fresh humor ... with a convoluted story line." The Wildhorn songs are a "competent rendering of various pop styles".
The show was one of the few new musicals to fail to receive a nomination for any major theatre awards.
- Linda Eder recorded the first song released from the show, titled "Anything Can Happen," for her CD It's No Secret Anymore. It no longer is included in the production.
- In November 2009 an original cast album featuring the cast of the Tampa production was released. John Fleming of the St. Petersburg Times, called it "a terrific pop album, overflowing with insanely catchy hooks, toe-tapping rock and swelling choruses that you couldn’t get out of your head if you wanted to. Of the 15 songs from the show, at least half of them sound like hit singles, and they don’t need any theatrical context." He added, "Of course, pop music can be manipulative, shamelessly derivative and loaded with cheap effects, like splashy key changes at every turn. Wildhorn is gleefully guilty on all counts here...Wonderland is full of songs that are perfect for listening to on an iPod or a car CD player."
- European Theatre star Thomas Borchert released the song "Together" on his 2010 CD If I Sing.
- Linda Eder recorded the song "The Mad Hatter Attacks" for her 2010 album Now, her first collaboration with Frank Wildhorn and Jeremy Roberts in years.
- An Original Broadway Cast Recording by the Masterworks Broadway label was released on May 3, 2011.
- A cast recording starring the Japanese Premiere Cast was released in March 2013.
- 2011 Astaire Award for Broadway Choreographer (Marguerite Derricks) (Nominated)
- Gans, Adrew. "New Wildhorn Musical Wonderland: Alice's New Musical Adventure to Premiere in Tampa". Playbill.com, March 6, 2009
- Gans, Andrew. "Kennedy, McCourt, Murney and Egan Set for NYC Reading of Wildhorn's Wonderland". Playbill.com, March 18, 2009
- Fleming, John."A Broadway Journey Starts for Wonderland"St. Petersburg Times, October 13, 2009
- Fleming, John."Casting director for new musical 'Wonderland' searches Tampa Bay area for extraordinary talent"St. Petersburg Times, May 3, 2009
- Fleming, John."Casting complete for TBPAC's new 'Wonderland' show"St. Petersburg Times, August 12, 2009
- Hetrick, Adam and Jones, Kenneth. Wildhorn and Murphy's 'Wonderland' Makes Houston Bow Jan. 15" Playbill.com, January 15, 2010
- Fleming, John."Straz Center's Broadway Genesis Project invests in 'Wonderland' project"St. Petersburg Times, November 29, 2009
- "News Release: 'Wonderland' creates significant economic impact on Tampa" strazcenter.org, December 28, 2009
- Fleming, John. "Straz's 'Wonderland' is bound for Broadway". St. Petersburg Times, August 4, 2010
- Hetrick, Adam. "New Wildhorn Musical 'Wonderland' Opens in Houston Jan 20" Playbill.com, January 20, 2010
- Fleming, John. " 'Wonderland' gets rewrite ahead of opening in Houston". St. Petersburg Times, January 20, 2010
- "Wildhorn's 'Wonderland' Heads to Broadway Apr. 17, 2011; Gregory Boyd Directs" BroadwayWorld.com, August 3, 2010
- Fleming, John. "'Wonderland' is better, but…". St. Petersburg Times (tampabay.com), January 7, 2011
- Tatangelo, Wade. "'Wonderland' returns to Tampa" Bradenton.com, January 6, 2011
- "Wonderland Streamlined for Straz Center, Then Broadway" Broadwayworld.com, January 2, 2011
- Jones, Kenneth. "Alice's New Lookingglass: 'Wonderland' Opens on Broadway" Playbill.com, April 17, 2011
- Hetrick, Adam and Jones, Kenneth."Broadway's 'Wonderland' Adds E. Clayton Cornelious; Casting Complete" Playbill.com, November 19, 2010
- David, Cara Joy. "We're All Mad Here" Huffingtonpost.com, February 6, 2011
- Riedel, Michael. "Riedel column"New York Post, February 2011. See also Fleming, John. "Now we learn if investment pays off as Tampa's 'Wonderland' opens on Broadway Sunday" Tampabay.com, April 16, 2011
- Jones, Kenneth. "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore; Broadway's Wonderland to Close May 15". Playbill.com, May 10, 2011
- "'Wonderland' Stars Janet Dacal and Darren Ritchie Get Engaged at Final Performance (Video)" Playbill.com, May 16, 2011
- "Wonderland in the Recording Studio". BroadwayWorld.com, March 6, 2011
- Fleming, John."Wonderland Review: Striking Visuals But Puzzling Plot" St. Petersburg Times, December 6, 2009
- Belcher, Walt."Welcome to Wonderland, Review Tampa"Tampa Tribune, December 6, 2009
- Handelman, Jay.Review, TampaVariety, December 7, 2009
- Evans, Everett."Review: Lots of flash, little real wonder in Wonderland, Houston Review". The Houston Chronicle, January 21, 2010
- "Review Roundup". Broadwayworld.com, April 17, 2011
- Isherwood, Charles. "Theater Review , Wonderland; There’s No Place Like Queens". The New York Times, April 17, 2011
- "Tony Award nominees, 2010–11". 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2011-05-03.
- Fleming, John."'Wonderland' diary: CD review"St. Petersburg Times, November 10, 2009