Saturday, May 14, 2011


Has it been two weeks?  Really?   I was on such a roll, there, for a while.

I guess time flies when you are suddenly subjected to the most confusing, frustrating and emotionally disruptive experience of your entire life; one that calls into question things you thought you knew for virtually your entire life.

I am referring, of course, to Frank Wildhorn's "Wonderland," his modernized reimagining of Lewis Carroll's classic tale.

Oy.  I'm not sure that even I, the great misanthrope, have a sufficiently sarcastic vocabulary to describe this show.

Apparently, Alice grew up, got married and had a daughter.  She moved to Queens and teaches school in the Bronx. I hear this is a pretty common life-plan for girls from the English countryside.  I'm sure Kate Middleton was considering a third-floor walk up in Astoria if that whole Princess thing didn't work out.

Anyway, for Alice and her daughter Chloe, it's the Worst Day of their Life (which is actually a song, and exactly the type of writing you'll find in a show with a book that includes rhyming "waiting" with "hesitating" and cliches like, "Long ago and far away.")  To summarize: Alice and hubby have separated (the reason is never really clear) but she and Chloe are living with his mother.  Chloe's had a bad day at school and hates the new neighborhood (this actually leads to the best line in the show: "There's a Starbucks right across the street." "That would be true anywhere.") Alice hates her job.

While waiting for dinner to be ready, Alice falls asleep, or maybe not, and ends up chasing a rabbit down the service elevator.  She ends up in Wonderland.

This is where things go from the ridiculous to the sublime.  There are a dozen singing, dancing Alices, an African-American caterpillar who sings hip-hop funk, a Latino Cheshire Cat (El Gato) who sings salsa, and a White Knight singing a bland, weepy white boy ballad.  It's stereotyping through showtunes.

There are, however, boy dancers in tight white stretch pants that provide a nice diversion.

It's all very colorful and messy and confusing and, though the music isn't half-bad, the writing is sophomoric and awful and a little too reliant on inside jokes (things like not being able to get the rights from Disney, or ripping off more famous productions, like Gypsy and the Lion King.)  The costumes are actually pretty good, other than Alice's big drapy shirt, leggings, and humongous belt (all she needs are hoop earrings and a Rosie Perez accent.) The plot is tissue-thin, turning on an underground movement run by the Mad Hatter (Kate Shindle, barely rising above the material, but looking resplendent in red) to overthrow the Queen of Hearts (Janet Mason, belting out the one show-stopping number.)

Other than those boy dancers.

Anyway, the Mad Hatter is afraid Alice is impressing the Queen, and may stifle the revolution, so she kidnaps Chloe, and takes Alice's compatriots (the Caterpillar, the White Knight, and El Gato) prisoner in Looking Glass Land.  It all turns out to hinge on the White Rabbit's magic pocket watch (trust is even lamer than it sounds, and comes totally out of nowhere.)  They banish the Hatter and Alice and Chloe return to Queens, which is somehow supposed to be a good thing.

Cue the Boy dancers!

Now, I love good theater (Book of Mormon).  And I really love good bad theater (Xanadu).  But this was mediocre bad theater.  Thankfully, we went out for cheeseburgers afterward.

Otherwise, it was a slow week in Pop Culture.  On Glee, reformed bully Dave Karofsky (Max Adler, who keeps adding layers to a role that totally could have been two-dimensional, and who I'm totally crushing on for all the wrong reasons) was crowned Prom King, while Prom Queen was a surprise write-in: Kurt Hummel.  I HATED this story line; it just reeked of "plot twist" - there was no warning of it coming, it made completely no sense, and seemed to be included for the sole purpose of Making A Statement.  Also, they brought back Jonathan Groff, whom I loathe.

Dear Ryan Murphy: yuck.  He looks thirty and is already getting crow's feet, which - last I checked - wasn't likely among High School students.  Plus, I wouldn't believe him as a straight boy if you actually filmed him having sex with Lea Michele.  Perhaps he should have been voted Prom Queen.

On Survivor we're at that point in the season where even the hot guys have gotten so thin that it's impossible to look at them.

Meanwhile, I've totally skipped American Idol, so I'm apparently missing out on Jennifer Lopez's comeback as a personality and entertainer.  I also need to get plugged in to The Voice, where Christina Aguilera is pulling a Britney and climbing out of the reputational hole she dug with some seriously bizarre behavior.

It's going to rain this weekend, so I guess I'll catch up on the DVR and eat ice cream in bed.

It may not be glamorous, but that's my wonderland.