With music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Jack Murphy, Wonderland is at the Theatre Royal Brighton from May 30-June 4.
It’s not Alice in Wonderland, and it’s not Alice Through The Looking Glass. It’s both, wrapped up in a new musical, with big cast, big band, big numbers and plenty of heart, promises Dave Willetts who plays the White Rabbit.
“Everybody knows the White Rabbit as this ‘I am late, I am late for a very important date’, twitchy, on-edge rabbit, and I come on as this 65-year-old white-haired old man! No! You don’t have to quote that! But the way I play it is that I get people to come to Wonderland who are getting fed up with the real world.
“I am in Wonderland but I have the ability to hear people in the real world when they say ‘I am fed up! I don’t want to live here anymore!’ And I hear Alice say ‘I am fed up! I have been divorced for five years. I have lost my job. I have lost my car keys!’ And so I come up through the lift shaft to take her to Wonderland. In my take, Alice has got a teenage daughter who comes after me.”
Dave promises the most appealing of nights in the theatre: “It is the show’s first tour in this country. It had various outings in Tampa and Tokyo, but it has been totally rewritten for the UK and European tour. You could call it a brand-new show now.
“It’s like striking a match. You never know whether it is going to light up until you strike it, and that’s a bit like a show really. You just don’t know. But the great thing about a show is that if it doesn’t quite work, you can move a scene around or add another song in here or there. You get a second chance and you can create the show. For me, that’s the most exciting thing, that creative side to it all. We are touring around with this brand-new version.
“And the thing about Frank is that he writes a great song. The whole show is filled with great songs, song and song after song and then the next one tops that. And then you have got all the great characters, The Mad Hatter, Tweedledum and Tweedledee and the Queen of Hearts. But the great difference is that Alice is now a 40-year-old divorcee, wherein lies the twist!”
Rachael Wooding will guest star as Alice in the UK tour of Wonderland. In May this last she wowed the nation on Britain’s Got Talent with Simon Cowell proclaiming her rendition of With You from Ghost was “the most beautiful version of the song” he had ever heard. Rachael went on to the live finals and her acclaimed audition has been viewed almost 9 million times on YouTube to date.
Rachael has played numerous lead parts, including the title role in the UK tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita and her West End credits include We Will Rock You, Hairspray and Jersey Boys.
Rachael joins a cast including West End star Wendi Peters, known for her acclaimed portrayal of Cilla Battersby-Brown in Coronation Street, as Queen of Hearts and musical theatre favourite Dave, who rose to fame for playing the title role in the Phantom of the Opera.
Completing the principal cast are Stephen Webb as Jack/White Knight, Natalie McQueen as Mad Hatter, Kayi Ushe as Caterpillar, Dominic Owen as Cheshire Cat, Ben Kerr as March Hare, Naomi Morris as Ellie and Michelle Pentecost as Alternate Alice / Mad Hatter. They are joined by a company comprising Sharif Afifi, Toyan Thomas-Browne, Divine Cresswell, Jessica Croll, Francesca Lara Gordon, Benjamin McMillan and Michael Morgan.
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