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.
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
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.”
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:
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  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.
December 8th, 2009 | Category: Music | Comments are closed
Here’s the blurb with a synopsis from their website:
Now, they are most definitely and exactually BACK!
In this world premiere of a new musical by lyricist Jack Murphy, book writers Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd and acclaimed composer Frank Wildhorn, Alice is a children’s book writer in Manhattan who is suffering through a creative block, estranged from her husband and alienated from her daughter. It takes a trip to a strange-yet-familiar Wonderland for her to regain her life’s balance and again find the love and everyday magic that reside in us all – if we know how to look.
Wildhorn’s score taps into numerous pop styles, and Murphy’s lyrics provide both wit and wisdom.
Be among the first to see this exciting new production.
There must be something in the zeitgeist that there’s so many older-Alice-returning projects to hit simultaneously. (Or is this a perennial take on classic children’s literature?) What follows is a slideshow with one of the songs, ending with an advertisement: “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…”
For those of you who like your pop-classical overproduced and over-enunciated, hot tweenage British singer Faryl Smith is releasing her second album (quick on the heels of her first album Faryl, which was the fastest-selling “classical” album of all time.) Wonderland, due on November 30th, is “loosely based on Lewis Carroll’s novel”, according to this evening’s Evening Telegraph.
“[Alice's Adventures in Wonderland] is one of my favourite books,” says the former Britain’s Got Talent contestant. “It’s so dreamy and playful.”
Keep watching after the musical clip, the second video is Miss Smith personally announcing Wonderland. It’s important to put all this in its proper cultural context, and remember that in the 2000s, hyper-sexualized images of underage girls in popular music was standard and should be judged against the backdrop of the norms of the times.
November 19th, 2009 | Category: Music | Comments are closed
Strange creepy creatures come out of your dens, and go to the world premier of The Hunting of the Snark at the Queens International Film Festival on Saturday, November 14th, 2009. The 30-minute student film is the directorial debut of Peter Pavlakis, a Brooklynite. The synopsis sounds like the plot sticks close to the Carroll poem, and the film trailer has an actor reading verbatim one of the rhymed speeches – so, we can expect a bit of fidelity, not a psycho-sexual re-imagining of the Bellman returning to sea a decade later to confront his nightmarish inner demons (ending in a car chase).
This will be at noon tomorrow at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts Charter Room, 35-12 35th Avenue, Queens, NY 11106.
Also coming out this week with the same title, the transatlantic “cosmopolitan post-bop” group NYNDK released “The Hunting of the Snark” on the label Jazzheads. The album includes hip versions of Charles Ives, Edward Grieg, and Carl Nielsen. The titular track (which can be heard online here) begins with some snarky outgribations on trombone, but I couldn’t find any explanation for the use of the Carroll poem’s title beyond catchy inspiration.
“Made in Bombay, born and raised in the UK, and currently based in San Francisco. Micropixie is a self- proclaimed Alien with extraORDINARY Abilities. She is also the extra-terrestrial alter ego of writer, film-maker, and full-time human being, Single Beige Female. Her debut release, Alice in Stevie Wonderland, is a concept album telling the true story of One Little Alien’s mission on planet Earth to experience life as a human being.”
Micropixie will be playing Thursday, October 8, 6:00-8:00 pm, at CSU Fresno’s University Business Center, Peters Business Building, Alice Peters Auditorium, Room PB191. Free admission. CDs will be available for purchase and signing.
September 7th, 2009 | Category: Music | Comments are closed
Many musical works have been inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, and even by The Hunting of the Snark, but I can’t think of anything other than academic books that have been inspired by his letters. Fortunately, Free Music Archive fills this void by making available Igor Ballereau’s “Lettres à des amies-enfants”, five songs for voice, flute, clarinet, violin, viola and cello performed by Jody Pou and Ensemble SIC.
Based on Lewis Carroll’s letters to his child-friends Marion Richards, Dolly Argles, Ethel Arnold, Jessie Sinclair, and on his poem “The Mad Gardner’s Song,” the five pieces are what I would call (not actually knowing anything about it) experimental classical, and may or may not be your cup of tea. But for the whopping price of $0.00, they are definitely worth a listen.
90% of “Alice,” an electronic musical piece, is composed of sounds from Disney’s Alice In Wonderland. Created by 19-year old Australian Nick Bertke, the music video (using bits from the film, of course) can seen here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAwR6w2TgxY.
May 26th, 2008 | Tags: Disney | Category: Music | Comments are closed