Tag Archives: Wendi Peters

REVIEW: Wonderland – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

In Gregory Boyd and Jack Murphy’s Wonderland, their take on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice is now a 40-year-old divorcée. After a particularly bad day: lost her job, car stolen, ex-husband about to get re-married (you get the picture), the White Rabbit appears to Alice and her teenage daughter Ellie. Alice follows Ellie and her next-door neighbour (and secret admirer) Jack down the rabbit hole (a broken high-rise lift shaft) so far, so psychedelic and the trio embark on a voyage of discovery and redemption for both Alice and the whole of Wonderland.

Despite initial impressions that this is merely a modernised Alice, it’s actually a riff on finding yourself, moving forward instead of remaining mired in the past and the corruption of power, with a few dozen extra plot lines unfamiliar to anyone’s who has read Carroll’s work thrown in for good measure. All wrapped up in such a coating of saccharine sweet sentiment that any message it hoped to convey is in a diabetic coma. The song titles alone indicate the production’s intentions: I Am My Own Invention, This is Who I Am, I Will Prevail.

Festooned in eye-popping visuals (it’s a rainbow smorgasbord of colour) and delivered at road-drill volume, this mish-mash relies heavily on its performers to keep the attention, thankfully, they are largely excellent. Leading lady Rachael Wooding is a fine-voiced Alice as is Jersey Boys veteran Stephen Webb who provides some memorable comic relief. TV favourite Wendy Peters particularly impresses with a phenomenal set of pipes. Less successful is Naomi Morris as Alice’s daughter Ellie, in a rush to machine-gun her lines out, they are completely garbled. The supporting performers and ensemble are universally strong.

While the songs are executed well, they are largely forgettable and every one of them, two verses too long. It’s all a bit Eastern European Eurovision Song Contest circa 1990. Untroubled by any sense of self-doubt or skills of self-criticism, it’s never knowingly understated.

While this is a colourful spectacle with a fine cast, the material is just too in your face and the sentiment too forced to have any impact.

Runs until 8 July 2017 | Image: Paul Coltas

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: White Christmas – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

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This post was originally writen for and published by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/irving-berlins-white-christmas-festival-theatre-edinburgh/

Book: David Ives & Paul Blake

Music & Lyrics: Irving Berlin

Director: Andrew Corcoran

Choreographer: Randy Skinner

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

If it’s a great big glittery Hallmark card of a show you are after, filled with nostalgia, sentiment and good old-fashioned Christmas spirit thenIrving Berlin’s White Christmas at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre is the show for you.

Based upon the 1954 Paramount Pictures’ classic movie, and following its storyline with a few edits here and there for the stage, fans of the original film will not be disappointed. It tells the story of two army veterans Phil Davis (Paul Robinson) and Bob Wallace (Steven Houghton). De-mobbed after WWII the pair become TV stars and at the height of their fame are contacted by an old army pal with two sisters trying to get their big showbiz break. Instead of rehearsing their new show in Miami the guys follow the gals to an inn in Vermont where they are performing for the winter season. There they find the owner, their old General, Henry Waverly (Graham Cole) and his feisty concierge (and Broadway veteran) Martha (Wendi Peters). Unseasonably warm weather has driven the tourists away and General Waverly is in danger of losing everything. Mayhem, mishaps, misunderstandings and munificence ensue and the true spirit of Christmas shines through.

This is a sparkling, sumptuous and sure-footed show staged with great charm. Beautifully realised, the production scores highly on period detail; Anna Louizos’ sets are as much of a star as the talented cast. The songs of Irving Berlin, in particular ‘Blue Skies’, ‘I Love a Piano’ and, of course, the title song, are a treat for the ear and will delight both fans of this musical era and those new to the tunes.

There are a brace of fine central performances, in particular Wendi Peters as Martha, a pint-sized Ethel Merman with a Broadway belt and Paul Robinson as Phil, a true triple threat, he has fine comic timing to add to his acting, dancing and singing skills. As sister act Betty and Judy Haynes, Rachel Stanley and Jayde Westaby perfectly evoke that glamorous feisty 1950’s gal. The ensemble too are universally worthy of the highest praise particularly in the big, show-stopping production numbers and tap-dance fans will delight at their execution of Randy Skinner’s vibrant choreography.

There were undoubtedly a few opening night nerves which shook a bit of the Christmas glitter off and ultimately robbed the show of a fifth star in the rating but as the cast bed further into their roles I’m sure it will fulfill its potential to be the show to see this Christmas.

Vivid, vibrant and visually stunning, a treat for the ears and eyes and set to be as timeless a classic as its movie namesake.

Runs until 4th January 2014 at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

All images courtesy: http://www.edtheatres.com/