Last night Wonderland - Alice Through a Whole New Looking Glass opened on Broadway. This morning, it got the snot beat out of it by the critics.
The Alley Theatre's Artistic Director Gregory Boyd directed and co-wrote the book with lyricist Jack Murphy, Frank Wildhorn composed the music.The show had a run in Houston last year, a sort of out-of-town tryout. Critics here didn't quite hate it, but there was a lot of mumbling along the lines of, "Maybe it will get better before it gets to Broadway." Well, it got to Broadway, and it seems it wasn't any better.
True, the critics may have had a little too much fun tossing out easy one-liners made at Wonderland's expense. The New York Post ran the headline Alice is lost in Blunderland, for example. But those comments, however gleefully made, weren't without merit. The show was a mess when it played here in Houston. It hadn't decided if it was a fairy tale for grown-ups, a morality play for kids or just a remake of The Wiz with a white cast. And it seems the same mishmash showed up on Broadway yesterday.
The AP review said "There are many wonders in Wonderland, chief among them: Who thought this musical was ready for Broadway?" It went on to say that the show "lacks consistency of tone, any hint of originality and a drastic lack of focus. Something here has indeed fallen down the rabbit hole."
Variety said, "There is a distinct lack of wonder in Wonderland ... [except] to wonder why - after a full-scale 2009 presentation in Tampa Bay and Houston - the producers saw fit to remount this less-than-scintillating, $15 million tuner on Broadway."
But the most biting critique came from New York magazine which said, "Wonderland is the worst kind of nonsense, the sort that attempts little and achieves less. Turgid with its own emptiness, this unctuously charmless show is proof that nothing from nothing somehow equals less than nothing."
It went on to say, " What's been spent here, in talent and treasure? How many excellent performers were tied up in this strange, sloppy enterprise? How much life force, in total, has this show subtracted from the world?"
The original Broadway cast recording of Wonderland - Alice Through a Whole New Looking Glass is set for release in a couple of weeks.