There was a buzz about the town as we heard of the European premiere of a brand new show coming to Edinburgh. After all this was a NEW show with sold out runs in Tokyo and Texas and a run on Broadway. As the start of a UK tour would this be the showcase prior to a West End opening? Were we privileged to view this before all others? Hey, with just over a week in Edinburgh this will shift some seats surely and right enough even on my Tuesday visit a huge audience came to see the rabbit.
For this was based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice books so we should expect Mad Hatters and a Queen of Hearts. Well Kerry Ellis played a youthful Alice and Naomi Morris her even more youthful daughter. Dave Willetts was a true gentleman White Rabbit and Wendi Peters played Queen of Hearts as a pure Pantomime villain. The opening number Worst Day was a sensation, tight choreography and dynamic vocals to a great ending so we were all set and peppered throughout were songs of varying styles, all new and relevant to the plot. At times we were hearing Jim Steinman style rock then pure Broadway chorus kicking show songs like Off With Their Heads led by the Queen of Hearts. The title songs can become standards (Wonderland, Finding Wonderland) but all too new on first outing so I need a soundtrack album and re-visits so they become old friends but that must be the case unless you opt for a songbook (Beautiful, Mamma Mia), an era (Dreamboats & Petticoats) or soundtrack songs that fit but still well known (Priscilla Queen of the Desert).
The audience in Edinburgh lapped it up and the strongest part was not the dancing or the effects but the vocal performances so do sample the Wonderland experience before West End prices kick in as they tour the UK. After all on Shaftsbury Avenue you may have to pay premium if they cast Kylie and Olly Murs to add value to an already dazzling show.
Edinburgh Playhouse until January 28