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Photo by Deen van Meer.

There’s a new drug on the market. MCC Theater is peddling the mind-altering substance in its’ impressive Hell’s Kitchen home. It’s called Alice By Heart and it comes in the form of musical theater. Side effects include visions of hookah huffing caterpillar, an overbearing queen (redundant for Hell’s Kitchen), a jabberwocky, mock turtle, march hare, and a magpie. Such side effects are not fatal and last for 90 minutes. Still, it’s one of the safest and more enjoyable trips you’re bound to take.

Bookwriter and lyricist Steven Slater has reunited with songwriter Duncan Sheik for this creative new interpretation of Lewis Carrol‘s 1865 classic Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. Jessie Nelson joined Slater to co-write the book and direct.

Photo by Deen Van Meer

Scenic Designer Edward Pierce takes us “down the rabbit hole” to a darkly beautiful London tube station during the blitz. This provides the escape hatch for Alice Spencer (Molly Gordon) and her ill friend, Alfred Hallam (Colton Ryan). Alice attempts to assuage his pain by sidetracking him with fantastical characters and scenarios.

Brothers Rick and Jeff Kuperman provide physically demanding and wildly inventive choreography, all of which this immensely talented cast handles with ease.

Photo by Deen Van Meer

Slater and Sheik offer some hauntingly beautiful tunes, much carries an imprint of their last collaboration, Spring Awakening

Where Alice by Heart stumbles however, is in the storytelling. Those unfamiliar with  the children’s tale will leave scratching their heads over the non-linear narrative. Unlike Aristoltle’s theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, here it is the opposite. The entirety of the story is sacrificed, but each choreographed number is stunning, Still, it’s a worthy wonderland.

Alice by Heart runs through April 7th at The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space (511 West 52nd between 10th and 11th Avenues). For tickets and information, click here

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