TimeOut’s Review of Wonderland Musical is a fantastic Jabberwocky parody

Art by John Turner of Creative Goods Design & Supply, for Wonderland, in a New York Times special feature "Adventures in Communicating a New Alice"

The reviews have been coming in all weekend for Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland: A New Broadway Musical (the musical formerly known as Wonderland: A New Musical and Wonderland: A New Musical Adventure.) Wonderland‘s website quotes the New York Times: “INSPIRATIONAL, FANCIFUL & GROOVY.” The Times’ review by Charles Isherwood was actually a bit more nuanced, but I suppose “…the desire to create a traditional narrative arc from the unruly dreamscape of Carroll’s original results in a convoluted story line pitting the good guys against the bad…” doesn’t fit on a marquee. Neither would “‘Wonderland’ transforms Alice’s surreal wanderings into a contemporary parable about reconnecting with your inner child and other watery truisms of the self-help industrial complex.” Kudos to Isherwood for pointing out that Alice’s “increasing exasperation to find her way home” is more Oz’s Dorothy than Alice: “a preoccupation that didn’t seem particularly urgent to the polite, spirited youngster in Carroll’s original.”

However, Adam Feldman’s proper panning for TimeOut New York was a spectacular parody of the Jabberwocky. It’s so good, I can’t resist posting it here in full:

’Tis Wildhorn, and the hapless cast
Does direly gambol on the stage.
All flimsy is the plot half-assed,
Not right for any age.

Beware of Wonderland, I warn!
The jokes that cloy, the scenes that flop!
Beware the humdrum words and scorn
The spurious, bland rock-pop!

The book’s a torpid bore in which
A newly single mom (Dacal)
Gets tested, see, by a journey she
Begins with quite a fall.

This modern Alice lands (ker-splat!)
In Wonderland, and banters some
With rabbit, caterpillar, cat
(In order: twee, dull, dumb).

She also meets a huffish Queen
Of Hearts (well-costumed Mason), and
A lady Hatter (Shindle, keen)
Who wishes to command.

These cartoon Carroll singers screech
The busy Wildhorn-Murphy score,
Which oft suggests a loud, high reach
At songs you’ve heard before.

A White Knight (Ritchie) does enact
A boy-band number that’s a lark—
But then comes the worst second act
Since poor Turn Off the Dark.

Act Two: Boo! Boo! And through and through
This Wonderland’s both slick and slack.
Dacal et al. can only do
So much to save the wrack.

And why has Wonderland been made?
Answer me that, director Boyd!
From captious gays to children dazed:
By all it’s unenjoyed.

’Tis Wildhorn, and the hapless cast
Does direly gambol on the stage.
All flimsy is the plot half-assed,
Not right for any age.

Thank you, Mr Feldman. If the LCSNA gave out an annual award for Jabberwocky parody (and we should, dash it all!) this would be a heavy favorite.

I’d also like to take this moment to mention that the actor playing the R&B-singing Caterpillar has an amazing name: E. Clayton Cornelious.

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.

See the new Broadway Mad Hatter: Former Miss America Kate Shindle

Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch blog posted pictures last week from the upcoming Broadway musical Wonderland, which will open in the Marquis Theatre April 17, 2011. Kate Shindle was Miss Illinois in 1997 and Miss America in 1998, and has since appeared on Broadway in Caberet and Legally Blonde.

“One of my first questions to the creative team was, ‘Why is the Mad Hatter female?’” admits Shindle about her gender-bending new role.

“It’s a cool gimmick, but it has to make sense.” And it does: This update, featuring music by veteran Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & HydeThe Scarlett Pimpernel), features a grown-up Alice who, dissatisfied with her marriage and career, takes an elevator into the bowels of Manhattan to find her missing daughter and, consequently, herself. “There are a lot of messages here,” says Shindle, who is introduced during the famous tea party sequence (pictured, top). “One is that there are forces at work within everybody and the question is what we want to let win. The Mad Hatter represents a part of Alice — I hesitate to say her dark side because she’s the fun, life-of-the-party side, but she’s also her insecurity, self-sabotage, and fear. The tea party is where Alice is introduced to the Hatter and realizes she has to reckon with that force.” What about the red pantsuit and bustle? “That’s the final showdown. It’s at a point in the show where the story might as well be over, but bad stuff, you know, just doesn’t go away quite so easily. That song is the beginning of it.”

-from Aubry D’Arminio at PopWatch

Previous posts about Wildhorn’s Wonderland since it’s been touring the counties here and here.