There are many adjectives to describe the new musical “Wonderland,” a contemporary, vaguely ethnic variation on “Alice in Wonderland,” but “wonderful” is definitely not one of them. “Sappy,” “bizarre,” “misconceived,” “idiotic” or just plain “awful” would be far more appropriate.
Alice, played by Cuban-American performer Janet Dacal, is reimagined as a frustrated teacher and aspiring writer whose marriage is on the rocks.
She unexpectedly ventures down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, where she meets the Queen of Hearts (Karen Mason), the White Knight (Darren Ritchie), the Mad Hatter (Kate Shindle) and El Gato (Jose Llana), a Hispanic version of the Cheshire Cat.
When the Mad Hatter kidnaps her daughter Chloe, Alice has no choice but to travel through the other side of the looking glass. In one especially strange scene, she meets Lewis Carroll himself.
On a purely visual level, director Gregory Boyd’s high-tech production makes for quite a spectacle, marked by extremely flashy costumes and video-game-style projections.
With its thoroughly nonsensical plot, bad jokes and largely distasteful score, however, “Wonderland” is nothing short of an unmitigated and embarrassing disaster.
Frank Wildhorn’s music explores a variety of pop genres and is lighter than his previous works such as “Jekyll & Hyde” and “Dracula, the Musical.” Even if the songs are sloppy and overblown, a few catchy pop melodies occasionally turn up.
The actors attempt to inject some personality into their characters and sing as forcefully as possible. Shindle, a former Miss America, makes for a sexy, vixen-like Hatter. And while Dacal has an attractive voice, she often looks just as stupefied as the captive audience.
If you go: “Wonderland” plays an open run at the Marquis Theatre. 1535 Broadway, 877-250-2929, wonderlandonbroadway.com.