If it's one show I've been looking forward to this year, it's this: Wonderland. And it's set to hit the Derry stage at The Millennium Forum this coming March. As an avid enthusiast of all things imaginary for children, this is the show that's destined to showcase all that I believe children should experience in their young lives. This is magic, imagination, make-believe, and more, at it's very best.
Following sold out seasons in Tampa, Texas and Tokyo, the multi Grammy, Tony and Drama Desk Award nominated Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland receives its UK and European première in this brand new UK production.
Hailed by the New York Times as “inspirational”, Wonderland is an enchanting musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with a huge heart, a medley of magic, and a whole lot of wonder.
Here a timely and touching story of love in all its forms, it’s an adventurous exploration of who we are, who we want to be and the power of everyday magic in our lives.
In the tradition of the best stage musicals, Wonderland boasts a catchy score full of songs by Frank Wildhorn, writer of pop hits including Whitney Houston’s ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go?’ and theatre classics including ‘This is the Moment’ from his internationally acclaimed show, Jekyll & Hyde.
“An inspirational musical”, New York Times. " A new musical extravaganza", Theatre Mania. "One insanely catchy song after another", Tampa Bay Times.
One of Televisions best loved stars plays the headline role of 'Queen of Hearts' in this UK production of Wonderland. Wendi Peters, much loved for her acclaimed portrayal of Cilla Battersby-Brown in Coronation Street, will take to the Derry stage on Tuesday 21st March until Saturday 25th March. I caught up with Wendi just yesterday where the show is currently in Southend.
Wendi told me that to date the show is in its fourth week and going really well. "We're just starting to settle in and the audiences are just loving it." I asked Wendi just what is it that is drawing audiences across the UK to this tale of two enchanting books by Lewis Caroll. "It's just a great show for all the family and it's a lot of fun. It encompasses music from every genre and it suits people from ages 7 to 90. There really is something for everyone in it."
Being an avid enthusiast of instilling the use of imagination in children, I asked Wendi just how important she feels imagination is for children in the modern world. "It's so important for children to use their imagination. There's nothing better for imagination that Wonderland. It's a mix of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and it really does inspire children. If they haven't already read the books, this will encourage them to do so. It's really important for children to read and this will inspire them to do such."
Wendi is so encouraging about the power of reading for children. She told me, "It doesn't matter what they're reading so long as they're reading. Be it comic books, quiz books. It's all reading and that's so important. It keeps them away from a screen." Even I was inspired by her enthusiasm for reading.
So just how are the cast settling into this new musical production. Wendi speaks very highly of the entire group. "The cast are all just lovely. We really are our own big family. When you're away from home you make this your family and you work together. I'm fortunate that I'm near home this week so I'm with my family. I've been baking brownies today and brought in a supply for the entire cast."
Wendi also told me that as Queen of Hearts she must eat two jam tarts per show. Yesterday was a matinee day so she was eating four jam tarts. "I have to watch what I'm eating off stage now as I'm consuming so many tarts on stage", she laughed.
So are Wendi and the cast of Wonderland looking forward to their Derry visit next month? "Absolutely. We're all very looking forward to coming to Derry. It's a beautiful city and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it and going out with people when I'm there. Last time I was in Derry I was doing Mrs Whippy, That was about seven years ago and I was on stage alone. This will be very different and I'm very looking forward to it."
Wonderland runs at The Millennium Forum from 21st - 25th March. Tickets are now available from the Box Office. Telephone 071264455 or visit www.millenniumforum.co.uk for bookings.
This really is one show I don't plan on missing out on. Bring the little ones, the bigger ones, and the elder ones. This is one for all to escape the mundane reality of life and escape into the world of magic and imagination for a wonderful ensemble of Wonderland, music and fun.
by Neil Eckersley, Wonderland has music
by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Jack Murphy, book by Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd with
UK adaptation by Ava Eldred. It is directed by Lotte Wakeham (Associate
Director of Matilda, West End &
Broadway), with musical supervision by Jason Howland (Beautiful, West End & Broadway), choreography by Lucie
Pankhurst (Dogfight at the Southwark
Playhouse), set design by Andrew Riley (Songs
for a New World at the St James and Flight
at Opera Holland Park), costume design by Grace Smart (2015 Linbury Prize
winner) and lighting design by Tony Award nominee Nick Richings (current UK
tours of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
& The Rocky Horror Show).