REVIEW: WONDERLAND (New Wimbledon Theatre) ★★★★★
Wonderland, a musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, began a 30 venue UK tour in January 2017, with a stellar cast. This week it is at the New Wimbledon Theatre and I went along to check it out.
Alice’s husband has just remarried and so all hopes of him coming back to her seem dashed. Her teenager daughter Ellie is holding the family together but on Alice’s 40th birthday it all becomes too much. Her car gets stolen, she loses her job and she just wants to find herself again. When a strange white cat bursts through the door, Ellie chases after him, and disappears in a lift. Alice and neighbour Jack (Stephen Webb) go after her and find themselves in the magical world of Wonderland, full of strange and mystical creatures. But can Alice find her daughter and will she manage to find herself whilst she is there. Oh, and save the whole of Wonderland from the Queen of Heart’s too.
What is extraordinary about this show is its cast. Every single person stands out at one time or another. From the quirky and fun Tweedle Dum (Benjamin McMillan) and Tweedle Dee (Benjamin Yates) to Divine Cresswell as the sleepy little door mouse, each character breathes life and joy into this production. Dominic Owen is brilliant as the Cheshire Cat, walking on his hands and constantly proclaiming ‘i’m just a cat’ and Kayi Ushe gives a great performance as the Caterpillar. If I had time, I could talk about each and every cast member, who all bring something to the musical.
West End leading lady Kerry Ellis is perfect in the role of Alice, a single mother who longs for the love of her ex husband in order to make her feel whole again. Alice’s teenager daughter (Naomi Morris) gives a sweet rendition of the hormonal teenager who really just wants her mum to love her. Dave Willetts gives an eccentric performance as the White Rabbit and Wendi Peters brings the house down as the jam tart eating Queen Of Hearts. I just wish she had a bigger part in the show but the scenes she is in, she steals the show.
But if I have to pick a favourite, it is undoubtedly Natalie McQueen as the Mad Hatter. Absolutely brilliantly played in all aspects and her vocals were stunning. Natalie is making a huge impact on the theatre scene, having played Elphaba in Wicked and more recently appearing in Murder Ballad at the Arts Theatre. This girl is one to watch as she is about to take over the world.
Musically, Wonderland has everything a good musical needs. It builds up and up and finishes with a bang and has some great songs. The brilliant cast have music that showcases what their voices can do and it feels like risks were taken that have certainly payed off, instead of playing it safe. The set design is everything you would expect it to be from a show like this and doesn’t disappoint.
A true wonder of a show.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Wonderland plays at London’s New Wimbledon Theatre until 6 May 2017