Fall down the rabbit hole between February 6-10, when NYU Steinhardt stages a new version of composer Frank Wildhorn's musical.
Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has captivated people’s imaginations for over a century, inspiring numerous movies, books, and even video games. None, however, has envisioned it quite like composer Frank Wildhorn.
His musical Wonderland, with book by Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd, infuses the original characters—Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit—with a contemporary New York twist. A modern-day, adult Alice unravels the tangles of her life over the course of a dream one night. In that time, a series of harrowing events remind her what it was like to be a child with a limitless imagination, and teach her to find happiness by accepting the love all around her.
Between February 6—10, NYU Steinhardt will stage the show for the first time since it appeared on Broadway in 2011. But those who saw the original production will find a new take. Wildhorn granted director Gabriel Barre and choreographer Jennifer Paulson-Lee permission to revise the book, and add three songs not in the original production.
“It has been a dream and a privilege for us to work on this fanciful material, creating a new version of Wonderland with the talented Steinhardt students and faculty,” says Barre. “If the audience has even half as much fun as we have had putting it together—it will be a huge success.
Students received a unique opportunity thanks to this production's revisions. Musical Director Ana Flavia Zuim, professor of vocal performance at NYU Steinhardt, has been working with the music team to rearrange some of the score. “Gabe and Jen changed the text, so we had to adjust the music cues to match and readapt or create transitions from one song to another,” she says. “Basically, we are reexamining the flow of the show.”
Beyond granting Barre and Paulson-Lee permission to rework the musical, Wildhorn was also involved in the casting process. “The cast you see here is the cast Frank approved,” says Zuim, who credits the musical’s sound—full of pop and pop-rock—with connecting to students in a new way. “Wonderland was a great choice for our student population because it matched their desire for exploring contemporary styles of vocalism and the faculty’s eagerness to help them train to produce a sound that is style-appropriate, healthy, and sustainable,” she says.
New adventures await Alice in the Big Apple. As Wildhorn puts it, “My partner, Jack Murphy, wrote such a beautiful and profound lyric for the beginning of the song 'Finding Wonderland': ‘We move too fast...we miss so much.’ It says so much about our lives and why we need to take the time to realize that Wonderland is there every day if we look for it. That is the essence of what our show is about—there is magic in the world, there is joy to be found, there are moments of kindness, compassion, and beautiful memories to be made.”
Performances run February 6—10 at the Frederick Loewe Theatre (35 W. 4th St.). Evening performances begin at 8 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. For more information and tickets, please visit tickets.nyu.edu.
Article and photo courtesy of NYU News.