Broadway: “Wonderland” - Nicht mehr zu retten?

Am 17. April 2011 fand im Marquis Theatre die Broadway-Premiere von Frank Wildhorns Musical “Wonderland” statt. Die Kritiken sind wie üblich wenige Stunden später erschienen. Würde man von “gemischten” Reaktionen sprechen, wäre das wohl fast etwas übertrieben. Jetzt liegt es einzig und allein am Publikum, ob sich “Wonderland” am Broadway durchsetzen kann.

Variety [Steve Suskin]

“Wonderland” stands out for its lack of distinction. In this case, Alice is not a young girl but a thirtysomething school teacher who lives in Queens. When this Alice runs out of steam, the authors send their villainous Mad Hatter back home to kidnap Alice’s daughter Chloe. At which point we have Alice and Chloe in Wonderland, the latter handcuffed to a tractor. So much for inventive plotting.
Show marks the first Broadway appearance for composer Wildhorn, who has been juggling a half-dozen musical theater projects over the last decade, since the dead-on-arrival “Dracula” in 2004. Compared to his earlier “Jekyll and Hyde,” “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and “The Civil War,” “Wonderland” — based on a single hearing — seems to have a more interesting score. But a single hearing is enough.
Similarly problematic musicals have been lifted by the ministrations of the cast, but there is little here that is compelling. As Alice, Janet Dacal (”In the Heights”) gives an unengaging performance that matches the level of the material. None of the actors in the assorted anthropomorphic roles stand outs either.

The New York Times [Charles Isherwood]

Mr. Wildhorn’s absence from Broadway since his 2004 adaptation of “Dracula” has not exactly occasioned widespread hand-wringing, and his competent rendering of various pop styles in “Wonderland” probably won’t win him a host of converts. Mr. Murphy’s lyrics are of a matching blandness, with Alice’s earnest ballads of self-discovery amply stocked in cliché. (“I remember every moment when my heart was young and free,” she sings upon meeting — literally — her inner child, “and to my surprise I look through your eyes and once more I can see.”)

New York Magazine [Scott Brown]

Wonderland is the worst kind of nonsense, the sort that attempts little and achieves less. Turgid with its own emptiness, this unctuously charmless show is proof that nothing from nothing somehow equals less than nothing. Its clone-songs, pop-cultured in the shallowest of Top 40 petri dishes, are all one-touch samples of erstwhile hits, most of them (weirdly) from the nineties. (Boy bands? Marc Anthony? No “ironic” cutaway or wink is too dated for this show—even by Broadway’s forgiving standards. It sounds piped-in from Hell’s very own lite-FM station.) The story, meanwhile, seems designed to frack out any stubbornly sticky soul-matter the music hasn’t already corroded away from your innermost chambers. Nominally a Hook-like revision of the Carroll tales—centering on a harried modern mom named Alice (Janet Dacal) who must travel back to Wonderland to relocate her youthful optimism—the narrative is just an excuse to plant us in a tacky, crass, not-so-vaguely creepy new version of Alice’s fantasy world. This is a “grown-up” Wonderland, which apparently means it’s designed like a mid-budget Miami swing club: The Mad Hatter has been replaced by a similarly chapeau’d villainess (Kate Shindle) in steampunk fetishwear that’s practically still got the Ricky’s receipt hanging from the bustier; the Queen of Hearts has apparently developed a strange ass fixation to go with her axe fixation. (Herewith, a sample of Jack Murphy’s stunningly puny lyrical prowess: “I’m almost never never all quite there / Noblesse oblige—my derriere.”) Each beloved character has been “updated”: The Cheshire Cat (Jose Llana), now called “Che,” is now a Latin-pop star with a rim-spinning hoopty and Ricky Martin-era song stylings. (Again: I use the word “updated” loosely.) The Caterpillar (E. Clayton Cornelius) calls himself “Puff Caddy.” Hilarious, no? (I stress: The performers are doing all they can to save this stuff. It’s just not saveable.)

NothJersey.com [Robert Feldberg]

If Sondheim has demonstrated the wit, sophistication and dramatic artistry to which musical theater can rise, “Wonderland,” which recklessly opened Sunday at the Marquis Theatre, reveals the appalling depths to which it can fall.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the show is awful in every way.

Bloomberg News

Alice is grown up in “Wonderland,” a hummable, cheerful Broadway fairy tale best suited to kids and their parents.
While the new musical’s characters are based on Lewis Carroll’s 1865 “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the plot recalls “The Wizard of Oz.” The cast is appealing, the costumes and choreography are inventive and the score, by Frank Wildhorn and Jack Murphy, is easy on the ears.
Adult entertainment it isn’t, notwithstanding a reference to the mad Tea Party and musical snippets of “Gypsy” and other shows.

New York Daily News

There’s potential to make the story here sing, but both its pop score and pop psychology end up sounding trite.
And another issue, which grows curiouser: Where’s the wonder in Wonderland?

abc NEWS

Part of the problem is the story’s mishmash of directions, as if it was made by committee. Is it for children? Then why are there so many references to heads being cut off and enslavement and executions? If it’s for adults, then what’s with the often insipid dialogue? For both? Then neither walk away satisfied, despite the references to bootylicious and “South Pacific.”
“Wonderland” doesn’t know whether it wants to be a fairy tale or a rock opera or a trippy joke or a cartoon. The show, which had an extensive pre-Broadway stop in Tampa, Fla., proves that even out-of-town tryouts can’t always help something that is unsound.

Associated Press

The book by Gregory Boyd and Jack Murphy is a jumble of competing ideas thrown on stage in desperate hope that something will stick. Songs by Frank Wildhorn (”Jekyll & Hyde”) and Murphy are too inconsistent, derivative and often wallowing in unintended self-parody. What would the Queen of Hearts say? Off with their heads!

The Hollywood Reporter [David Rooney]

His lumbering period pieces have notched up some of the most consistently scalding reviews of any seasoned Broadway composer, but Frank Wildhorn keeps coming back, like indigestion. It would be gratifying to report that his latest musical, Wonderland, deserves a warmer welcome, but this clumsy Lewis Carroll update shuffles bland ‘80s pop imitations and third-rate show tunes to minimal effect.

St. Petersburg Times

Eventually, a lot of the elements familiar to veteran Wonderland watchers turn up again in this latest incarnation, but Wildhorn and his collaborators — director Gregory Boyd and lyricist Jack Murphy, both credited with the book — have failed to bring a little coherence to the story. Some of the changes work, some of them don’t, but many seem so arbitrary that you wonder what the point could ever be.

New York Post [Elisabeth Vincentelli]

There’s a lot of talk about time in “Wonderland.” There’s also so much laborious exposition and overexplaining, you’d think this flat new Broadway musical was inspired not by Lewis Carroll, but by Stephen Hawking.
This show clearly casts a wide net, but it also takes family-friendliness as a license to be simplistic. Come on, “Wonderland,” test us — we’re smarter than you think.

Entertainment Weekly

Considering the massive success of the Broadway juggernaut Wicked, it’s actually quite surprising that someone took seven years to hatch a musical update of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland — a fairytale that appeals to children and adults, an age-old story that crosses all language barriers (perfect for non-English-speaking ticket buyers!), a colorful storybook setting that possesses unlimited visual potential. Yet Wonderland is no Wicked; it’s actually a crashing bore, from its clunky New York City-set beginning to its cliched happily-ever-after finish.

Tampa Bay Online

Lead Janet Dacal can deliver a sing, dance with fluidity and has a flair for comedy. She is a captivating charmer as Alice, a harried wife and mother who goes on a symbolic journey into her imagination (which happens be in the basement of her apartment building).
She’s an aspiring writer who has split with her husband much to the dismay of her daughter Chloe, played by Carly Rose Sonenclar who has an amazing voice for her age – or any age.
Darren Ritchie as her imaginary hero and husband Jack still gets laughs and applause for the boy band number “One Knight.” He joins forces with a bluesy caterpillar (E. Clayton Cornelious) and goofy cat El Gato (Jose Llana) to help Alice get through Wonderland.
But she must deal with a chop-happy Queen (Karen Mason) and a wicked Mad Hatter (Kate Shindle). All of the key characters have impressive turns at songs written for them by composer Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Jack Murphy.


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