Theater News

REVIEW ROUNDUP: Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland Opens in Tampa

Janet Dacal in Wonderland
(© Michal Daniel)
Janet Dacal in Wonderland
(© Michal Daniel)

Frank Wildhorn’s new musical, Wonderland: Alice’s New Musical Adventure opened Saturday, December 5 at the Straz Center (formerly the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center). Along with Wildhorn’s music, the show features lyrics by Jack Murphy and a book by Murphy and director Gregory Boyd.

The principal cast for the contemporary take on Lewis Carroll’s classic features Janet Dacal as Alice, Julie Brooks as Chloe, Eugene Fleming as the Caterpillar, Jose Llana as El Gato, Karen Mason as the Queen of Hearts, Darren Ritchie as Jack/White Knight, Nikki Snelson as the Mad Hatter and Ed Staudenmayer as the Rabbit.

The critics have weighed in on the production and it’s scoring high marks for its visuals, Dacal’s performance and Wildhorn’s score, but there is a division about the strength of the musical’s story.

Among the reviews for Wonderland are:

Review: Wonderland: Alice’s New Musical Adventure
“The show is physically impressive, with Sven Ortel’s video projections adding an ethereal aura to Neil Patel’s sets. Susan Hilferty’s imaginative, time-spanning costumes and Paul Gallo’s lighting add to the visual rewards. And it sounds good, with a score that ranges from vaudeville to Broadway bombast, jazz, and variations on the last four decades of pop music.”


“But the story is confusing almost from the start, especially in the messier second act, when it drifts around and then rushes to an unemotional conclusion.”

The Tampa Tribune
Musical ‘Wonderland’ excites, delights

“…a fun ride with a variety of pop numbers in various styles – from salsa to rock – by composer Frank Wildhornand lyricist Jack Murphy … The play’s signature song, “Finding Wonderland,” delivers an emotional message that “we move too fast, we miss so much” and “seldom see all the miracles in front of us.””


“The lively Janet Dacal, as Alice, is so appealing in the role that we’d follow her anywhere. With a strong voice, great dance moves and flair for comedy, Dacal is a perfect fit for the role.”

St. Petersburg Times
‘Wonderland’ review: Striking visuals but puzzling plot
“The new musical, a contemporary spin on Carroll’s surreal saga from Victorian England, is loaded with talent onstage, and the Frank Wildhorn score boasts one insanely catchy pop song after another. The show is a visual feast, with dazzling costumes, marvelously funky dance and a flashy, high-tech production design.”


“But Wonderland also has a problem: It makes almost no sense. The book needs a major rewrite, and not just a tweak here and there. What Wildhorn and his colleagues — director Gregory Boyd and lyricist Jack Murphy, co-authors of the book — or somebody else can do to bring at least a measure of dramatic logic to the musical will ultimately decide its fate.”


“One of the most thrilling things about Wonderland is to witness a star in the making in Janet Dacal’s performance as Alice.”

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