Lewis Carroll is turning in his grave at Tim Nelson’s Alice in Wonderland. This overly cheesy and mundane production is a complete waste of time, as we cling onto better versions of the story in order to get us through this travesty of a musical.
Lewis Carroll is turning in his grave
When Alice (Charity Bielicki) falls down the rabbit hole into a world of nonsense, she steps into Wonderland; a world of nonsense where she meets a host of characters on her way to the Queen of Hearts’ (Avi Walton) croquet game.
There are musicals based on books that are done well, where the composer focuses their talents on making the score original whilst borrowing lyrics from the book itself, showing that they actually have thought about paying tribute to the source material.
Nelson’s issue is that he tries to make Alice in Wonderland completely his own original work, pretty much dancing on Carroll’s grave as he does so. It’s as if he is trying to make his own Disneyfication of the story. A great example of this is In My Mind where Alice is saying what world she would build. Firstly; spoiler alert and secondly it seems a prime opportunity to use what Carroll has written because Carroll is a much better writer than Nelson, and his writing is clearly applicable beyond borrowing the plot and characters. This also introduces us to the core problem of this musical; the lyrics are just regurgitated expressions that Nelson has dunked into a thesaurus and called them his own, which causes an unbearable cheesiness and makes the songs rather forgetful.
No big Broadway numbers or toe-tapping here. Let’s All Go To The Fair as an opening number is pointless, as it doesn’t fit into the story except to mildly introduce some of the characters, but all I could hope at that point is that he wasn’t going to shoehorn Tweedledum and Tweedledee into his musical, because as we all know, those characters are from Alice Through the Looking Glass. His lyrics are trite and unoriginal, Carroll’s insane and colourful characters become flimsy with poor attempts at characterisation to the point where they are shadows of their former selves. Vincent Aniceto’s projections are just a glorified PowerPoint of random mystical looking mushrooms. Again it’s so cartoonish, as if he just searched 'mushroom' into Google and chose a random one. They look so bad that it would be better just not having the PowerPoint at all. The transitions are rather jarring, kind of like changing pictures on a slideshow.
This is one musical that will not see the lights of Broadway.