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"Wonderland", the Musical, at the Marquis Theatre
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"Wonderland", the Musical, at the Marquis Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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Wonderland
(Wonderland Website)

Book by Gregory Boyd & Jack Murphy
Lyrics by Jack Murphy
Music by Frank Wildhorn

At the
Marquis Theatre
1535 Broadway
NY, NY
877.250.2929

Director: Gregory Boyd
Choreographer: Marguerite Derricks
Music Director/Incidental and Dance Music Arrangements:
Jason Howland
Exec. Producer: William Franzblau
Assoc. Producers: Judy Joseph,
StageVentures 2010 Ltd. Partnership

Starring:
Janet Dacal, Darren Ritchie, Clayton Cornelious
Jose llana, Karen Mason, Kate Shindle, Carly Rose Sonenclar
Edward Staudenmayer, Danny Stiles

And an Ensemble of Singers/Actors/Dancers

Scenic Design: Neil Patel
Lighting Design: Paul Gallo
Costume Design: Susan Hilferty
Video & Projection: Sven Ortel
Hair & Wig Design: Tom Watson
Casting: Clemmons/Dewing Casting
Sound Design: Peter Hylenski
Press Agent: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Music Supervision & Orchestrations: Kim Scharnberg
Vocal Music Arrangements: Ron Melrose & Jason Howland
Fight Director: Rick Sordelet
Assoc. Director: Kenneth Ferrone
Assoc. Choreographer: Michelle Elkin
Marketing: aka
Advertising: SpotCo
Music Coordinator: David Lai
Production Stage Manager: David O’Brien
Technical Supervisor: Chris Smith/Smitty
General Management: The Charlotte Wilcox Company

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 20, 2011


You won’t come out humming “Down the Rabbit Hole” or “Hail the Queen”, but you might enjoy this campy, urban, contemporary version of Alice in Wonderland, here called Wonderland. Gregory Boyd and Jack Murphy wrote the book, Jack Murphy wrote the lyrics, and Frank Wildhorn wrote the music. Janet Dacal, as Alice, is a recently separated Queens public school teacher, a now single mother with lots of work, an adorable and independent daughter, Chloe (Carly Rose Sonenclar), and an estranged husband (Darren Ritchie), who appears as Jack the White Knight and the Victorian Gentleman, who personifies Lewis Carroll. In an over-exhausted dream, Alice enters Wonderland, with an ensemble of contrived, cartoonish characters: The White Rabbit (Edward Staudenmayer), Caterpillar (E. Clayton Cornelious), El Gato (Jose Llana), Morris the March Hare (Danny Stiles), The Mad Hatter (Kate Shindle), The Queen of Hearts (Karen Mason, who also doubles as Alice’s nagging mother-in-law), and Mr. Ritchie’s two fantasy roles.

Songs like “I Will Prevail” and “Off with Their Heads” propel Alice’s urgency to find her way home, through some dark humor, as she also searches for Chloe through winding obstacles, even prison gates. Although this show should be suited for kids, I found the portable guillotine blades a bit much for kids used to Disney-esque chase scenes. Wonderland seems more of an adult concoction, with tonal phrases from Gypsy and South Pacific, a backup Boy Band, muscular but sweet, some vaudevillian jokes and gestures from Rabbit, Hare, Caterpillar, and El Gato, and a bit of soap opera as Alice sees her husband’s face during her rescue by White Knight. Even Chloe manipulates her parents’ sleepover date. Kate Shindle as Mad Hatter looks like a seductive siren on an avante garde fashion runway, with a hat that adds steel to her menacing glare. Caterpillar and Cat sing and dance respectively with jazzy and mambo motifs, both effecting cool, bar crawlers. The blood-thirsty Queen of Hearts rides a death-defying coach, and The White Rabbit naturally loses his watch, a constant fixation. Morris the March Hare pretty much prances and preens with sneering eccentricity.

Of the cast, Darren Ritchie seemed the most natural, a knight right out of Cinderella, but without an engaging fairytale. He was typecast well for both fantasy roles, but, as the down-on-his-luck husband-come-back, he was too handsome to have been let go. Janet Dacal played the self-absorbed Alice with ennui-infused psycho-speak. The remaining cast was entertaining and energized, but book, songs, and choreography never caught fire. I kept wishing for mesmerizing melodies and a more fluid pace, and, if this were re-structured, it could be taken for a tour in the schools, as everyone knows about Alice et al. Carly Rose Sonenclar certainly has a bright future with clear crisp vocals, but in this role she’d been directed to the edge. In fact, Gregory Boyd’s direction had everyone over-compensating for what lacked in composition. Marguerite Derricks’ choreography presented moments of bliss, especially in the more burlesquean scenes. Neil Patel’s bright, expansive sets, Susan Hilferty’s eye-catching costumes, and Sven Ortel’s projections carried the show. Kudos to Lewis Carroll.
















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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net