The Battle of Wonderland on Broadway?

The classic story of Alice in Wonderland is no stranger to the stage. The story of the girl who falls down the rabbit hole explores the story of Alice who finds herself in a strange land with mysterious characters who are unlike anything she has ever seen before. This spring, the story of Alice returns to Broadway in a totally new style as Wonderland takes the story and modernizes Alice and her adventure. As the new musical makes it’s Broadway debut, Disney Theatricals announced their plan for a stage adaptation of Alice in Wonderland based on the Tim Burton film for Broadway as well. With the potential of 2 Alice in Wonderland musicals on Broadway at the same time, the question arrises of…..Will there be a Battle of Wonderland on Broadway?

Wonderland, as previously mention, is a new musical debuting on Broadway for the Spring 2011 season. It takes the classic story of Alice in Wonderland and twists it to add a modern spin onto it all. The story will take Alice as an adult and tell her story as she escapes back into Wonderland to escape the reality of her normal everyday life which we find ourselves located in New York City. The new musical features a book by Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd, lyrics by Murphy, and music by Frank Wildhorn. The musical which premiered in Tampa received good reviews but critics agreed work still needed to be done if it was to succeed on Broadway. This is the first musical based on the story to take it in this direction with such contemporary ideas and concepts. The musical looks very promising as the costumes, sets and other technical aspects have been applauded in previous production runs.

In late 2010, Disney Theatricals announced they were eying the Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland film for a stage adaptation and Broadway musical. While they announced they had been in talks with Burton and were eyeing it, nothing much more ever came to be. The talk dropped below radar and many believed the idea was scrapped after Wonderland announced it would be transferring to Broadway. However, Disney Theatricals released another announcement they are highly looking into working the film into a stage production for Broadway. While many were surprised by the move, many weren’t as Disney has been eyeing its latest Broadway endeavor for quite some time now. Disney has also produced previous movies of the classic story. The question I have though is, Will this send waves of anger or tension through the Broadway community as Wonderland makes it Broadway debut?

Disney seems to be very serious as it has been reported they have met with mastermind behind it all Tim Burton himself. Tim Burton has agreed to work with Disney on overseeing the musical but he has not and will not sign on to direct the piece. Burton WILL however render the overall designs for the musical. Disney has also been in contact with Linda Woolverton. Don’t know the name? She wrote the screen play for Disney’s The Lion King and also is a Tony Nominee for her book writing for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Elton John/Tim Rice’s Aida. Also on board for the stage production is Robert Roth is set to helm the stage musical that will have choreography by Matt West. This team is famous for their first collaboration which was on Disney’s first Broadway outing, Beauty and the Beast.

When asked to report on the stage adaptation of the film, Disney has declined to comment. However, in a report released just today, Disney announced several titles of previous films of which they are working on for stage adaptations aimed for either Broadway or major regional circuits. Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland is listed on the list of projects.

So our main question remains of, Will there be a Battle of Wonderland on Broadway if Disney was to open an Alice in Wonderland musical at the same time as Wonderland? Only time will tell. My thoughts on it are that it would actually be interesting to see 2 shows of the same story but yet completely different design and concept ideas to run on Broadway at the same time. I can’t think of one example of this happening in my head, but I’m sure this has happened before to some extent or another. While I think tensions and anger would be raised, one show would not simply be the cause of another show to close up and leave New York. And if that was to happen, how could we know which would shutter first? We couldn’t! Disney Theatricals has their name and their known production quality going for them. However, in a world were people want to see stuff they may be able to relate to more, maybe the newcomer Wonderland stands a better chance. What do you think?

As for now, as Alice falls down the rabbit hole another time on Broadway, lets just hope that rabbit hole doesn’t turn itself into a grave for Disney Theatricals or any others who decided to take us on the adventure to Wonderland! Stayed tuned for more adventures! Luner on Theatre will continue to work on all news relating to any current or future Alice in Wonderland pieces headed to Broadway. Wonderland: A New Alice, A New Musical is set to play The Marquis Theatre with previews beginning on March 21st. An official opening has been set for April 17th, 2011.

The Battle of Wonderland?



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