WONDERLAND Streamlined for Straz Center, Then Broadway

WONDERLAND_Set_for_Straz_Center_Then_Broadway_20010101

According to TampaBay.com, Composer Frank Wildhorn got the idea for WONDERLAND when he and his then-wife, Linda Eder, lived on the 38th floor of a building on Riverside Drive in Manhattan.

Wildhorn's musical, inspired by Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking-Glass," tells the story of a contemporary New Yorker named Alice who goes down the rabbit hole (the elevator of her apartment building) to have a dreamlike adventure in a Wonderland.

After premiering just over a year ago at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa and an engagement in Houston, the show underwent many changes in its bid for the Broadway stage.

A revised WONDERLAND- with a new subtitle: A New Alice. A New Musical - returns to Tampa for 14 performances beginning Wednesday at the Straz Center. These are considered preview performances before the Broadway production at the Marquis Theatre. It's scheduled to begin previews March 21 and to open April 17.

"Coming out of Tampa and Houston, it became very clear that the story had to be totally about Alice,' said Judy Lisi, president of the Straz Center, to TampaBay.com. "There were too many stories before. Once they got that fixed, it brought a lot of clarity. Basically, they got rid of the clutter.'

"The first time the material was handed to me and Jack it had about 15 different stories,' said director Gregory Boyd. "Now it's Alice's story and she's like an arrow all the way through. We like to say our story is inspired by and completely unfaithful to Lewis Carroll. His story is about a Victorian child and the power of her imaginary world. Ours is about a modern woman with a particular problem, the problem being that she is alienated from whatever her true source is, and she has to find that.'

A major change since the show closed in Houston last February is the recasting of the Mad Hatter. Also recast were Chloe, Alice's 10-year-old daughter who runs away to Wonderland and the Caterpillar. The Jabberwock character was eliminated and whole scenes have been added and subtracted. Wildhorn and lyricist Jack Murphy have written four new songs while several original songs were cut.

"Don't Wanna Fall in Love," was in the score in Tampa, out in Houston and is now back in again, but in a different place.

"We wanted to make the story move more swiftly,' Boyd says of the rewrites. "What I didn't like about our earlier iteration was it took too long to get to Wonderland. Now I think it goes like a shot.'

Changes have also been made to the character of Alice, played by Janet Dacal.

"Now it's a much more tour de force-y type of part,' Boyd said. "In any version of Alice in Wonderland, there is always the danger of Alice being this passive character who just reacts to all the eccentrics that she meets. Now she's always occupied, always dealing with something.'

The Mad Hatter has been refashioned into "something more Freudian, a character who represents the dark side of Alice. It's one reason why the Hatter, male in the Carroll books and other versions, is female in Wonderland," according to the article.

"One way to look at it now is to say that everything in Wonderland is an extension of Alice, and the Hatter represents the less attractive parts of her personality, the more selfish, self-obsessed parts of her,' Boyd says. "The whole role has been redone. Two of the show's new numbers are Hatter numbers.'

Nikki Snelson, who had been playing the Hater since the production's first Actors Equity reading, was dropped from the cast. "It was a wonderful experience for me, and I will forever be brokenhearted,' Snelson said on a Broadway podcast, the Broken Leg. The new Mad Hatter is Kate Shindle.

Also recast was Alice's daughter, now played by 11-year-old Carly Rose Soneclar.

"It's very easy to be more compassionate and connected when it's actually a child,' said Daca. "Having a little one really plucks at the heartstrings.'

For the full article, click here.

 

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