TAMPA — Wonderland: Alice's New Musical Adventure is all set and ready to go. The new Frank Wildhorn musical, which is being produced by Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and will have its premiere there on Dec. 5, officially announced complete casting Tuesday.
Janet Dacal will play Alice, as first reported in July by the St. Petersburg Times from an interview with composer Wildhorn. Dacal, a Cuban-American who lived in Miami, is now playing Carla, the ditsy redheaded beauty salon assistant in In the Heights, the Tony Award-winning musical set in the Manhattan barrio.
"If you don't have the right Alice, the show won't work," said Jack Murphy, who is writing the book and lyrics of the musical, inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.
Though Alice is a British expatriate children's book author living in New York in the musical, the character won't change with a Latina in the role, Murphy said.
"We were very excited to get Janet. This is not going to be your mother's Alice in Wonderland. This is a modern woman who speaks to today's audience."
Tuesday's announcement confirmed that principal cast members include Karen Mason (Sunset Boulevard, Mamma Mia!) as the Queen of Hearts, Eugene Fleming (Fosse) as the Caterpillar and Nikki Snelson (Legally Blonde) as the Mad Hatter.
The 25-member cast also has Julie Brooks playing Alice's 10-year-old daughter, Chloe; Jose Llana as El Gato; Ed Staudenmayer as the Rabbit; and Sarasota native Darren Ritchie as Jack/White Knight. For the complete cast see blogs.tampabay.com/arts.
Wonderland, directed by Gregory Boyd, begins rehearsals at the TBPAC on Oct. 12. The show will be staged in Ferguson Hall and start preview performances Nov. 24 and open Dec. 5. After the Tampa run closes on Jan. 3, the production will make a quick transfer to the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas, where Boyd is artistic director. It will play the Alley Jan. 15-Feb. 14.
John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716. He blogs at Critics Circle at blogs.tampabay.com/arts.