Trippy family show is a wink-wink adventure for fun-seeking adults, too.
When I first learned about WONDERLAND, the musical production at Modern Showrooms at Alexis Park, my initial reaction was “Ugh, another kids’ show in Vegas”. Yes, there are some of us, including the Las Vegas Convention and Vistors Authority, who believe that Sin City is no place to vacation with children. They’ve launched a new ad campaign specifically to deter tourists from bringing the little ones.
But of course, there are thousands of families residing in our valley and thousands more who pass through every week. Like it or not, we need a market for kid-friendly activities, hence the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, FlyOver Vegas, and OMEGA MART at Area 15. Now you can add WONDERLAND to that list. I have a feeling it’ll be around for quite some time.
Many of the most iconic works of literature and film from our childhood are steeped in dark, heavy subject matter. The tragic deaths of parents in nearly every classic Disney film are nothing compared to horrifying headless characters in RETURN TO OZ and SLEEPY HOLLOW. How about the weird AF creations by Roald Dahl like CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, MATILDA, and THE B.F.G.?
Yes, we’ve been psychologically damaged by those creepy-ass stories and passed on our trauma by way of CORALINE, NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and….ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND. So why not join your little rugrats on a trip down the rabbit hole? As long as it’s the new production at Alexis Park Resort, a good time is sure to be had by all.
WONDERLAND is easily one of the best family-friendly activities in all of Las Vegas. It’s clever, bizarre, funny, colorful, and more than a little trippy. It’s also drenched in a wicked sense of humor that only adults can grasp, much like the best gags from classic Looney Tunes. Bugs Bunny in drag, anyone?
This isn’t the first time that the story of Alice and her friends has made its way to a Vegas stage. Perhaps the most noteworthy was created by Anne Martinez (BAT OUT OF HELL). That wild production was an adults-only steampunk take on the tale. WONDERLAND offers an entirely different approach.
WONDERLAND‘s “Alice” is portrayed by Lauren White Lux. A little naive and also a little sassy, Lux’s Alice is onstage throughout the running time. With a pipsqueak voice that never wavers, she embodies the innocence of the titular character, making her instantly relatable to children.
Lauren’s husband Derek Lux does most of the heavy lifting both behind the scenes and onstage. Clad in black as the show’s puppeteer, Derek brings to life each of the story’s fantastical beings, from Cheshire Cat to the Tweedles and Mad Hatter. Things come to a magnificent climax when Derek transforms into a lifesize version of The Red Queen herself.
Character creations were designed and built for WONDERLAND by DLUX Puppets, a Vegas-based firm specializing in puppets for film stage, television, and advertising. As you might have guessed, the company was founded and is operated by Lauren and Derek themselves.
It’s very clear that WONDERLAND has been a labor of love for the couple. As parents of two adorable boys, they’ve made it their goal to supply the entertainment industry with imaginative moments which appeal equally to children and adults. And their script for WONDERLAND neither talks down to young audience members nor leaves parents out of the fun.
While the show is presented on a traditional stage, the actors coordinate their movements to motion backgrounds by Steve Axtell which create a virtual 3D environment. This technique is used to great effect in PARTICLE INK: Spirit of Dark, and works marvelously for WONDERLAND as well.
Although it’s faithful to Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, the Lux interpretation delivers quite a number of contemporary tweaks. Many come from the inclusion of popular songs, all of which undergo a makeover to their lyrics. Titles include Abba’s DANCING QUEEN, James Brown’s I FEEL GOOD, and of course WHITE RABBIT by Jefferson Airplane.
Prior to its current residency at Alexis Park Resort, WONDERLAND performed a stint at a popular community theater known as The Space. It also traveled to Performing Centers throughout the nation, albeit in a scaled-down form. Now that the production has a permanent home, WONDERLAND has received the full-on Vegas treatment.
Executive Producer Pete Housley informed me that a number of his Alexis Park shows will be getting a festive holiday makeover, complete with new visuals, costumes, decorations, and snow. So if you’ve already seen any of his shows and/or will be visiting Vegas between Thanksgiving and the New Year, here’s your chance to join Alice in a “Winter Wonderland”.
In the late 60s, film studio MGM cleverly marketed its surreal 2001: A Space Odyssey to a psychedelic American culture with the tagline “The Ultimate Trip”. The tactic worked, helping to create a global phenomenon out of an audio-visual feast. While I don’t recommend ingesting mushrooms before curtain time, WONDERLAND can certainly take you on a similar adventure of the mind. And yes, cocktail service is available. So kick back in The Modern Showroom‘s luxury seats and enjoy the ride.
WONDERLAND performs Saturday and Sunday at 4 pm. Tickets start at $29.95 and are available here. Alexis Park’s Modern Showrooms are located at 375 East Harmon Avenue, across from Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Parking is free.