The Broadway musical Wonderland takes a classic children’s story (Alice in Wonderland) and tries to make it modern and urban while adding a nudge-nudge jokeyness and some self-help messages.
I liked it better when it was called The Wiz.
In fact, just like that show, Wonderland even has the nerve to include a song called “Home”!
But at least when The Wiz came around, its insouciance was fresh.
In this wack musical, things just seem desperate.
The Cheshire cat is a hip-swiveling Ricky Martin type whose friends call him “Che”; the Mad Hatter is an evil beyotch whose hat is on too tight (see above); the Queen of Hearts has basically been reduced to a bland vaudevillian; and the rabbit…
No, let me not go on.
This show certainly shouldn’t.
It’s fairly lavish and there’s occasional cuteness (like a fun if not exactly urgent spoof of boy bands), but it’s mostly just lame and episodic, and without the sociopolitical commentary of the original, it seems to belong more in a theme park than on Broadway.
“Don’t you know what Wonderland is, child?” the caterpillar asked Alice at one climactic point.
I certainly knew, but graciously held my tongue.
And it wasn’t easy, considering I was desperate to scream at the stage a line from the original:
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 17, 2011