Wonderland UK Tour (Manchester) Review
Hellooo! So a while back (the 29th April to be specific!) I went to see Wonderland for the second time and was just as blown away by it as the first time! This time I had the pleasure of seeing Kerry Ellis play Alice and I have no words for how incredible she was but we'll talk about that later! Wonderland was playing at the Palace Theatre in Manchester and I just couldn't resist booking myself a ticket. Having seen the musical before, this time I noticed many details I didn't notice before which was also helped by my seat being in the fifth row in the stalls!
Starting with the set, I loved the lights that ran along the rings that framed the set and how they changed colour to fit the scene. I already went on the grey scale to multicolored transition in my review of the show in Grimsby but it really was a powerful opening to the show! The first song set in Wonderland, is Welcome To Wonderland with choreographed mayhem that fit the switch from grey to colour perfectly.
One thing I picked up on was that the lighting that shone down on the tea table was close to the lighting that shines down on Elphaba in Wicked when she flies during Defying Gravity. I love the lighting in both scenarios SO MUCH and I think it highlights the character in a much more powerful way than a simple spotlight. I also liked how in Through The Looking Glass, the Hatter appears on the far left of the stage to sing her verse before running off again, cutting her and Ellie off from the rest of the scene without it seeming too disjointed or forced.
The sound throughout the show was spot on and I particularly liked the eerie reverb and delay on the Hatter's vocals during I Will Prevail making her sound even more menacing. One of my favourite characters has to be the Cheshire Cat as he's played so well by Dominic Owen. He's witty and unique and really stood out for me on both trips to Wonderland. I was also impressed when he started doing a walking handstand whilst singing. What more could you want from the Cheshire Cat!
As for the lead cast, Naomi Morris was sensational as Ellie both before and after her venture through the looking glass! Stephen Webb was a hit with the ladies in the audience as Jack with his boyband that had a striking resemblance to the Wanted and former Corrie star Wendi Peters was impressive as the uptight Queen of Hearts. Dave Willetts was a perfect White Rabbit, introducing Ellie, Alice and a reluctant Jack to Wonderland. Natalie McQueen was absolutely incredible yet again with showstopping vocals and a thoroughly convincing performance as the Mad Hatter. Last but certainly not least, Kerry Ellis starred as Alice. Where do I start! Now don't get me wrong, Rachael Wooding blew me away as Alice but Kerry was just something else! There's a reason she's starred in so many shows - she's amazing! From start to finish, her voice was breathtaking and there was no doubt that she WAS Alice! I could go on for pages about how great she was but I will restrain and stop here...
The show was full of one-liners such as Alice exclaiming 'I've been inspected by Ofsted on six occasions!' which everyone who's been to school in the UK can relate to. At one point, the Caterpillar held a note for a LONG time, so long that the other cast members were chuckling, triggering a ripple of chuckles from the audience. Speaking of the audience, they reacted so well to every joke that was put out there and cheered after every song, it was wonderful to be a part of!
At the start of Finding Wonderland, Kerry looked to be tearing up, now I don't know if that was acting or if that was really her but the way she sang the song had me tearing up too! The emotion throughout was so powerful and the moment that really pulled on my heartstrings was the line 'Wonderland is never far away' as the set splits and the Wonderland creatures are singing in the shadows at the back of the stage. It was just such a beautiful way to end the performance and they definitely more than earned the standing ovation they received from myself and everyone around me at the end.
I honestly can't recommend Wonderland enough! It's an amazing musical that transports to another world and makes you forget about all your real-life worries and fears. Kerry and Rachael are starring as Alice in different cities but they are both amazing and you will not be disappointed!
Thanks for reading!
Wonderland Trailer (Kerry Ellis)
Wonderland Trailer (Rachael Wooding)