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Theater Review: ‘Wonderland’

Kids may approve of the premise of ‘Wonderland,’ but discerning adults will wonder how this ‘Alice’ adaptation ever made it to Broadway.

When staging an oft-retold classic like “Alice in Wonderland,” it’s vital to either adhere strictly to what’s familiar or deviate entirely to create a bold, new story that complements what exists in audience imaginations. “Wonderland,” now playing at Marquis Theatre, does neither. Director Gregory Boyd’s caricature stubbornly sticks to middle ground, unaware that the bid for ubiquitous approval might mean it won’t strike a true chord with anyone.

Despite competition from a forgettable score by Frank Wildhorn, cliche characters and an underdressed stage, the biggest failure is Jack Murphy and Boyd’s book.

In it, Alice (Janet Dacal) is an overworked teacher on the verge of divorce. She visits Wonderland after hitting her head and falling asleep in her daughter’s bed, where Lewis Carroll’s classic was just read aloud. The lazy dream trope serves as the most relatable note in the show; you will also feel like you’ve been hit over the head by obvious lyrics, flat jokes and sophomoric psychological motivations.

To read T. Michelle Murphy’s interview with Kate Shindle, who plays The Mad Hatter in “Wonderland,” check out her blog, Well Played.

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