This Easter the Mayflower hosts the UK and European première of Wonderland between Tuesday 18 and Saturday 22 April.
Wonderland is a musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. It follows the adventures of a grown up Alice as she quests to save her daughter, discover who she is and find true love.
Last night I went with the Southampton Bloggers to see the new show on it’s opening night in the city.
Alice, now a forty year old divorced single mother, is forced on a journey of self improvement after her daughter chases a white rabbit into a magical new land.
In a bid to help her, and win her heart, timid neighbour Jack won’t let Alice face this foreign land alone.
Together the team of three must find a way out of Wonderland to avoid losing their heads and being forced to remain there forever by the evil Queen of Hearts.
The multi Grammy, Tony and Drama Desk award nominated show is packed with catchy songs and punchy dance routines from start to finish.
In the slick opening number, ‘Worst Day’, the incredible vocals of the cast are showcased. Alice played by Rachael Wooding is an impressive musical theatre star with a powerful vocal range that makes singing look easy.
You might recognise her, last year she shot to fame on Britain’s Got Talent. Her audition tape has been viewed nine million times on YouTube and she went on to the live finals. Plus, you may have spotted her previously during her title role in the UK tour of Evita, and her West End roles in We Will Rock You, Hairspray and Jersey Boys.
Although Rachael was an outstanding lovable lead it was Natalie McQueen, the Mad Hatter, who stole the show. Together their duet, ‘This is who I am’, was a match made in heaven, those harmonies were on point!
Natalie’s voice is not only powerful but wonderfully expressive. Her portrayal of the fierce and fiesty Mad Hatter was of Gwen Stefani kick-ass proportions with an awesome costume to match. Purple boots, tights and a top hat rounded off a tartan mini dress that had a big flare to the skirt and layered frills from the bodice to give it great shape and movement.
While we’re here, let’s talk about those costumes. Tartan, faux fur and frills were used to great effect on the other costumes too recreating beloved childhood characters.
Let me draw particular attention to the mouse. A double pom pom hat, ruffled skirt, pillow bag and pom pom timberland boots made for such cute detail to one of the more minor characters.
The Cheshire Cat played by Dominic Owen, played his part a little too well and I could have done with a little less of the irritating feline vocals, but I think that was the point. Kitted out in navy faux fur and a neat little waist coat, his costume was equally as lavish as the rest.
The real surprise was Coronation Street star Wendi Peters who plays the Queen of Hearts. I’m ashamed to say that I had written off her part and pre-judged it as a minor celebrity cameo appearance like they have in pantomimes. SHAME ON ME.
Wendi turned my opinion on it’s head immediately as soon as she sang. Belting out her songs and holding notes for great lengths, she showed her musical theatre prowess.
Later, after the show and a little bit of a Google, I discovered that she’s a West End star in her own right. She was amazing and I think it was such a shame that she only had two songs and a lesser role in the production. It would have been good to have her in more of the show.
I was really impressed by the extremely polished performance of the entire cast, the quality of the production was very high. It was a very different take on and adaptation of the traditional Alice in Wonderland story.
Plenty of children were in the audience, engaged for the whole duration of the production but there are definitely some jokes and moments for adults too. Look out for the boy band cheesy moment when a hero turns up on the scene!
Wonderland is playing at the Mayflower from 18 – 22 April and then it moves on to the Manchester Palace Theatre for the last leg of the UK tour.
*Gifted PR experience from the Mayflower Theatre