On Tuesday night, the stars from Broadway and the West End gathered at the Palace Theatre in Manchester with American composer Frank Wildhorn to showcase the best of his iconic musical theatre numbers, with an exclusive preview of his new musical Wonderland.
Frank Wildhorn is a multi Grammy, Tony and Emmy award-winning composer. Known for his beautifully written Broadway shows such as Jekyll and Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil War, he has also written music for some of the biggest names, such as Whitney Houston, Sammy Davis Jnr and Liza Minnelli.
Described by the New York Times as “inspirational” it is known to have a beautifully empowering score. He brings his production of Wonderland on an expansive UK tour, starting in January. Wonderland is a contemporary musical adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, set in New York City and focuses on writer Alice Cornwinkle.
Best known for playing Elphaba in Wicked, Kerry Ellis will guest star in certain venues as Alice, alongside Wendi Peters who is best known for playing the well-loved Cilla Battersby in ITV’s Coronation Street, will be playing the Queen of Hearts.
During the show Frank Wildhorn and Friends at the Palace Theatre, Wildhorn’s score was showcased to us through a group of tremendously talented stars. Highlights included the spicy performance of Havana by the leading ladies, Laura Osnes (Broadway’s Cinderella and Bonnie & Clyde), Jackie Burns (Broadway’s Wicked and the US tour of If/Then), Cassidy Janson (West End’s Carole King in Beautiful) and Natalie McQueen (Murder Ballad and Wicked). The ballads of the evening were the most spectacular numbers performed, Jackie Burns’ A New Life was vocally stunning and Natalie and Cassidy’s In His Eyes.
Not to forget the men, that performed sensationally, Thomas Borchert (Phantom, Jekyll and Hyde), Dave Willets (Les Mis, Phantom) and Stephen Webb (Jersey Boys.) Stephen’s rendition of Sarah from The Civil War was utterly moving. However, it was when the whole cast joined together to perform a Swing Medley bursting with passion that proved why they are regarded as such huge musical theatre stars.
However the stand-out songs of course belonged to the music that will be appearing in Wonderland. Wendi Peters’ performance of Off With Their Heads, was a jazzy showpiece, and Natalie McQueen’s solo number in her role of the Mad Hatter. However, it was Jackie Burns’ belter Finding Wonderland that was a goosebump moment as the inspiring and uplifting title number in the show.
With a sensational score and impressive cast, Wonderland is set to be something very special.
Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre 6th-11th of Feb, tickets can be found here.
Manchester Palace Theatre 24th-30th of April, tickets can be found here.
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre 31st July – 5th of August, tickets can be found here.
Information of other tour dates can be found here.