Wonderland vs. Wonderland on Broadway?

Edward Staudenmayer (Rabbit) in Wonderland: A New Musical

Wonderland: A New Musical (formerly known as Wonderland: A New Musical Adventure) started previews today, March 21st, at the Marquis Theatre on Broadway. It stars Janet Dacal, who created the role of the “modern-day Manhattan mom named Alice” in Tampa Bay, alongside former Miss America Kate Shindle as Mad Hatter. It will open officially April 17th, assuming multiple actors don’t break bones and it gets pushed back six months.

However, there’s some other Broadway buzz which might cast a bandersnatchian shadow over the proceedings. Disney, whose Broadway franchises include the hugely successful Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, has announced they will turn their Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland, the sixth highest grossing film of all time, into a Broadway Musical. And Tim Burton himself has agreed to help with the design. Linda Woolverton, who wrote the screenplay for the movie as well as the screenplay for The Lion King and the scripts for Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast and Aida, will be writing the script for this also.

If Wonderland: A New Musical is a long-running hit (as composer Frank Wildhorn’s previous shows Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel have both been), could there be dueling Wonderlands on Broadway!?

Meanwhile, here’s a “sneak peek” of the new Wonderland: A New Musical, if you can’t afford the $49-$132 ticket price.

Euro-Pop Trio of Alices on the Antwerp Stage

The Belgian Pop trio K3 will be starring in “Alice in Wonderland le Musical” in Antwerp, April 9th through 25th, 2011. I can’t embed the promo videos, but I highly recommend them – link here.

K3 appear to all be playing Alice, but in three different colors. Here’s a google-translated description (from the Dutch) of the show:

Karen, Kristel and Josje bored and the three of us going to the movies. Once at the cinema arrived, they end up in the story of Alice in Wonderland. They decide to go Alice warn all that lies ahead, but they are all too late. Their search for Alice is full of surprises and nothing is what it seems. [...]

‘Alice in Wonderland’ takes you on a magical adventure in a magical world of fantasy. Are you going to Karen, Kristel and Josje last?

3D World first:
In the musical “Alice in Wonderland ‘for the first time in a musical world use 3D sceneries. The same technique is used to show 3D movies in the cinema.

Visitors of the musical will get a pair of glasses for the 3D effects to be observed. The public has the ultimate experience to sit in the middle of the story and together with K3 to adventure in the wonderland of Alice in Wonderland.

The musical promises to be a unique total experience with a live orchestra, spectacular 3D scenery and breathtaking costumes.
The story of the musical is based on the famous, written by Lewis Caroll, story ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland “(1865) and its sequel” Behind the Looking Glass and what Alice found there “(1871).

I thought live theater was in 3D already?

UPDATE: Thank you Europopped for e-mailing us that K3 has already released an Alice-themed video this year!

A musical puzzle inspired by a broken LP

We are big fans of Alicenations, one of several blogs of the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil managed by Adriana Peliano. The site regularly features original and experimental music, video, and illustrations created by Adriana, together with her husband Paulo Beto, and inspired by the Alice books.

Here’s a recent creation which began life as a damaged Disney LP:

Many years ago I found a Disney Alice Record completely warped. I suddenly began to play with its stutter sounds, noises, voices and echoes, creating and recording a musical puzzle. The result is a funny game of words, a collage with dislocated meanings. My actual husband, Paulo Beto, boyfriend at that time, who is an amazing electronic music composer, recreated the material, remixing the jumping sounds.

The video below (a work in progress) makes use of some of the resulting music. Visit Alicenations for further description of the project, and the opportunity to download mp3s.

“Unintentionally Terrifying” Alice LPs on Cracked.com

The internet humor depot, Cracked.com, yesterday posted a collection of “19 Unintentionally Terrifying Children’s Album Covers“, two of which were old Alice records:

Cracked comments:

We’re tempted to chalk this one up to a bad case of Engrish mistranslation from our friends across the Pacific. It’s easy to see how “Wonderland” could have been misread as “Waterland,” and the “Mad Hatter” may have been literally interpreted as “Angry Hat.”

In any case, how we are supposed to believe that they’re pouring a cup of tea underwater? How the hell are you going to drink it? Could they have made a more disturbing Alice in Wonderland cover?

I think all LCSNA members will know the answer to that last question.

UPDATE! Matt Crandall had a post on his Disney Alice blog last year featuring Alice in Waterland, with more pictures, and included a recording:

Thank you!

And secondly:

From Brazil with Theremin: a new soundtrack for silent 1903 Alice

When our cousins the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil held their first “Alice Day” in May this year, one of the main events was the live performance of a new soundtrack to the silent Alice in Wonderland (1903). The music was composed by Paulo Beto and performed by the band Frame Circus on keyboards, cello, percussion and Theremin.

Thank you to Adriana Peliano for sending us news of the event. Adriana tends Alicenations, the blog of the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil. The above video featured in her Alice Day blog post, along with another soundtrack by Frame Circus, and a video of Leon Theremin playing his own instrument.

Lang Lang galumphs

Jabberwock puppet by Sarah Snowden

No need to report every time a Jabberwocky word is used somewhere, but this was a good one. Alex Ross, The New Yorker‘s classical music critic (and author of the excellent musical/political history of the 20th century The Rest Is Noise), in the middle of complaining about the flood of anniversary-year Chopin recordings, describes a showy pianist’s contribution thus:

Lang Lang, the other big Chinese virtuoso, galumphs through the two piano concertos on [Deutsche Grammophon].

Whether Ross means it in the sense of moving “heavily or clumsily” (Wiktionary) or in the more Carrollian sense of triumphant galloping, is up for interpretation. LCSNA blog followers, keep watching for interesting modern uses of Carroll coinages!

Alice’s New Musical Adventure heads for Broadway

Back in November, Frank Wildhorn’s musical “Wonderland: A New Alice” premiered in Tampa Bay Florida. Yesterday it was announced that they are heading for Broadway and the big time. The show is set to open on April 17, 2011 and previews will begin a month before. The cast is yet to be announced.

“Journey with a modern-day Alice to Wonderland and the Looking-Glass World where she must find her daughter, defeat the Queen and learn to follow her heart…”

A synopsis, video montage, and musical clips from the 2009 production can still be enjoyed on this blog.

Happy Snark Day

Thanks to Mahendra Singh for reminding us that 136 years ago today Lewis Carroll began his composition of The Hunting of the Snark, “and thus, in a semiotic and hypermetaphysical manner, began decomposing the non-existence of The Hunting of the Snark.” Read more at his excellent blog.

In celebration of Snark Day, here is the full text the first edition, published by Macmillan and Co. in 1876.

In lieu of a rendition of “Happy Birthday To You,” we suggest listening to Billy Connolly as the Bellman in the 1987 April Fool’s Day performance of Mike Batt’s Snark musical. When the musical was originally released as a concept album in 1986, the part of the Bellman was sung by Cliff Richard, possibly the only time Billy Connolly and Cliff Richard have proved substitutable in popular culture.

Finally, Mr. Singh (an LCSNA member and Knight Letter editor) is publishing his own beautiful Snark illustrations, coming out November 2nd, 2010, from Melville House, and it’s already available for pre-order on Amazon.com here. Only $10.08! (Don’t be fooled by Amazon’s “look inside,” it links to another edition.) Previews of many of Singh’s illustrations can be seen on his blog, and I’ve reprinted one below.

From Mahendra Singh's illustrations for Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark

Kristian Scheiblecker’s Lewis Carroll songs

A musician named Kristian Scheiblecker has written very pretty songs set to some of Lewis Carroll’s ‘non-nonsense’ poetry. I do not know if they are to be released for sale in any format, but you can listen to a thirteen-track playlist of them (some labeled ‘unfinished’), at his website journeys.se – which, even if it continues to evolve, already plays together nicely as an album. According to Jenny Woolf, he performed at the (UK) Lewis Carroll Society’s December party at the Art Workers Guild in London. She reports:
This year, a couple of Swedish guys called Kristian Scheiblecker and Pontus Nilsson came specially to perform some songs based on Carroll’s so-called “serious poems”. They have been classically trained but the music was more like early Leonard Cohen to my ear. You could certainly imagine Kristian sitting there in his Victorian cottage in Sweden and composing the music in the dark winter nights.

To my surprise I found that Carroll’s poems made terrific lyrics. Read purely as poetry, they are mostly rather banal. I was particularly impressed with “Only A Woman’s Hair” which makes a most touching ballad.

“…and, as I touch that lock, strange visions throng
Upon my soul with dreamy grace-
Of woman’s hair, the theme of poet’s song
In every time and place. -

A child’s bright tresses, by the breezes kissed
To sweet disorder as she flies,
Veiling, beneath a cloud of golden mist,
Flushed cheek and laughing eyes- -

Or fringing, like a shadow, raven-black,
The glory of a queen-like face-
Or from a gipsy’s sunny brow tossed back
In wild and wanton grace…

…The eyes that loved it once no longer wake:
So lay it by with reverent care-
Touching it tenderly for sorrow’s sake-
It is a woman’s hair.”

-quoted at length from jabberwock.co.uk/blog

Ms. Woolf compares his voice to Leonard Cohen, but it reminds me more of the Scottish Bard Robin Williamson, with fewer mordents. Scheibecker quotes Carroll scholar Edward Wakeling below the songs for an introduction to Carroll’s non-nonsense poetry:

Rare performance of Alec Wilder’s original music for the 1957 LP Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

In 1957, a popular dramatized LP version of Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland was released, narrated and sung by Cyril Ritchard. It’s still widely available, even on iTunes here. The music, which many children of that generation heard so many times, was written by light classical American composer Alec Wilder – (He also wrote television operas, like Miss Chicken Little [1953] for CBS, and was friends with Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.) A piano reduction of this score, with song versions of just about every poem in AAIW, has been in print from Tro Ludlow Music since 1986. However, the original instrumental score, for woodwind quintet plus percussion, was lost.

It was lost until it was found in Gunther Schuller’s attic a few years ago. (Schuller is another swing-era American popular-classical composer.) Professor John Koehn will be staging a performance at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s College of Fine Arts this weekend and next, with the school’s Dean, Michael Hood, reading from the story. 11am on Saturday, December 12th and 19th, at the Indiana Free Library in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Read more about it in the Indiana Gazette.