Alice By Heart
Midtown W
75

Alice By Heart NYC Reviews and Tickets

75%
(283 Reviews)
Positive
74%
Mixed
20%
Negative
6%
Members say
Great singing, Great staging, Clever, Ambitious, Confusing

About the Show

The Tony and Grammy award-winning creators of "Spring Awakening," Steven Sater and Ducan Sheik, reunite for MCC's new musical inspired by "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland."

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Member Reviews (283)

61
Confusing, Quirky, Insipid, Great acting

See it if A show that has good acting and some goods songs set in ww11 backdrop. Nice lighting in this production.

Don't see it if A story that gets lost in metaphors, symbolism and riddles. Story goes downhill fast.

70
Great dancing, Confusing, Sad, Romantic, Great singing

See it if Forlorn fantasy of staying a child when confronted with death. Dreamy music with wonderful vocals & choreography. Youthful exuberance.

Don't see it if Fractured fantasy on a fantasy is too confusing. Overly sentimental, repetitive dialog. 4th wall breaks take you out of the show.

Critic Reviews (28)

February 26th, 2019

“This production is practically, well, impossible to embrace as a credible work of entertainment...’Alice by Heart' seems to lose its road map as soon as it begins...The real-world characters are so hastily established and sketchily drawn that there’s nothing compelling or surprising in their metamorphoses...The hazy, dreamy songs of 'Alice' feel as if they’ve had the edges sanded off them. The choreography, by Rick and Jeff Kuperman, mostly involves picturesque hand and arm movements."
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February 26th, 2019

“’Alice by Heart’ has no hint of irony about it, and it’s hard to spark any heat...Whenever the Kupermans and the actors can let loose together, the show momentarily takes off, but Sater and Sheik have weighed it down with so much schmaltz, and tarted it up with so much half-assed sexiness, that 'Alice by Heart' can’t help but feel like a slog. As a production, it has moments of real ingenuity and charm."
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February 26th, 2019

“’Alice by Heart’ demonstrates that it might be time to give Alice and those fantastical characters surrounding her a well-deserved rest...Some of the transformations are inventive...But there's precious little else to hang it all together, save for the omnipresent pop-rock score featuring no less than 20 songs blending into an unmemorable hodgepodge...Despite the efforts of the hard-working ensemble, ‘Alice by Heart’ ultimately doesn't have much heart at all.”
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February 26th, 2019

“'Alice by Heart,' joins the ranks of adaptations that have gotten tangled up in the details of nonsense, despite some dreamy melodies, clever staging and an emotional arc for the title character...The twin tales are burdened with so many symbols, riddles, wordplay and metaphors that it all ends up more exhausting than invigorating...It’s just no fun...The cast is solid...Though a coming-of-age approach gives this 'Alice' some distinction, a wonder it is not.”
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February 26th, 2019

"A muddled concoction, tangled up in too many layers of reality and fantasy, to deliver its emotional payload...It’s hard to keep the stakes straight or feel any real bond with the characters...Although staged, story-theater style, with inspired tableaux and choreography, Sater and Nelson’s concept is too static and circular, leaving us—and Alice—no one to credibly save, no dream from which to wake...The creative team means to rouse our imaginations, but the effect is perversely soporific.”
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February 26th, 2019

“A new folk-pop musical...Although sincerely intended and full of creative touches, ‘Alice by Heart’ is a disjointed, depressing and bewildering mess. It would be near impossible to follow it without a working knowledge of the source material...Sheik and Sater’s songs are mellow and hazy and have little integration with plot...Considering that ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is a classic novel in the public domain, virtually anyone can write a musical based on it. Perhaps a good one will turn up."
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February 26th, 2019

"While the score strikes several reminiscent notes, it smooths over the meatiest ambiguities in Alice's story in favor of gentle poetic metaphors. It may come out sounding very pleasant, but the result is far too tepid — both emotionally and cerebrally — to measure up to the eye-opening (and hopefully mind-bending) experiences that unfold in Wonderland...Nelson's precisely punctuated direction, ends up suggesting more clarity in the story than there turns out to be."
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March 20th, 2019

“The production is a design and staging marvel...But the show holds its wounded characters and their shared heartbreak in such tender regard that you are left with nothing to do...Nelson's direction, aided by the inventive choreography of Rick and Jeff Kuperman, bristles with creativity...If ‘Alice by Heart’ had a more compelling Alice, it might work better, but Gordon adds problems of her own, beginning with a marked lack of vulnerability...This rabbit hole leads to a dramatic dead end."
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February 26th, 2019

"It seems incomprehensible a new musical with a score by Sheik and Sater could be a tedious, incoherent mess, but, sadly, 'Alice By Heart' is such a musical...The pieces simply don't fit...Nelson and Sater's libretto mistakenly assumes a high degree of familiarity with Carroll's work...Its dense and complicated storytelling, and it flies by at a rapid pace...Sheik and Sater's songs, all 20 of them, are tuneful, but they're also surprisingly repetitive and, unfortunately, derivative."
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February 26th, 2019

“A darkly whimsical, utterly transporting musical...For all of ‘Alice by Heart‘s’ moving elements, in fact—among them the fittingly dreamy, sinuous choreography, by Rick and Jeff Kuperman—it is the score, impeccably orchestrated by Sheik, that makes it transcendent, a term that can still be applied only occasionally to contemporary musicals, notwithstanding the resurgence in recent years. Catch it while you can, and prepare to be devastated, and uplifted.”
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February 26th, 2019

“The script is so unclear, and the staging so busily distracting, that it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s going on...Sheik’s score is poppy and yearning...The youthful actors are, all of them, fantastic, doing the best with what they’ve been giving and singing tunefully...The direction and dance clutter rather than clarify.”
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March 4th, 2019

"'Alice By Heart' with score by lyricist Steven Sater, music by Duncan Sheik, and book by Sater with director Jessie Nelson is a big disappointment. This new musical treatment of 'Alice in Wonderland' reset in W.W. II London during the Blitz is confused and confusing. What is most missing is the magic and enchantment of the fictional world of Wonderland. The songs do not forward the story but seem to be philosophical commentary, often anachronistic to its 1941 period."
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February 26th, 2019

"The overriding arc is that, faced with Albert's impending death, Alice finally grasps the coming-of-age moral imbedded in Carroll's book: she must learn that she can-and must-keep growing, defy authority when necessary, and, above all, face the loss of Albert. It's a fairly simple message that, while stirring, gets buried time and again in the overly elaborate staging of chapters from Carroll's book, many of which strike me as the result of some weird reality show challenge."
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February 26th, 2019

"A vaguer fantasia...Alice's Adventures is already somewhat scattered in its episodic construction, and retelling the story with an even looser structure comes with narrative disadvantages...Although the inconsistent accents are occasionally distracting, the singing is uniformly strong...In general, the production is beautiful to look at...’Alice By Heart’ has rough spots on the narrative front, but with its strong score and production design, it helps to mark a promising start for MCC."
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February 27th, 2019

“While there’s much to like about ‘Alice by Heart’, I don’t think it’s quite there yet...Whenever you’re doing an adaptation of any work, the big question is why...For me, that was murky here. There was a lot of musing about time and the lack of it. Growing up and not growing up, but I didn’t get any arc in the character of Alice herself...There’s a lot of creativity here and the basic concepts and structures work well...The ensemble cast is splendid, and it looks like they’re having a lot of fun."
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March 14th, 2019

"'Alice by Heart' tries desperately to find its footing in the often-mined landscape of Wonderland...An overly complicated but sometimes compelling musical score...Bouncing along the haphazard journey is a fascinating concept with a convoluted and discombobulated execution...The cast is game though, and very invigorated by the task at hand...Especially when paired with the athletic and inventive choreography...The team’s work is fantastically dynamic."
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February 26th, 2019

“There is much to like about this show - the inventive choreography...the colorful costumes...and the charming performances...Despite Hart’s catchy vocal arrangements, this new score offered echoes of their earlier work without being especially memorable. And the plot did little more than begin at the beginning, and go on till it came to the end, then stopped...An intermittently entertaining but hardly mandatory return down the rabbit hole.”
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March 20th, 2019

"Why, I wonder, do we need yet another version? Surely not because it updates the material with modern profanity, sexual humor, and drug use, all of which have been done before…Which isn't to say 'Alice by Heart' doesn't have its pleasures…The fast-moving script is nonetheless confusing, there's little sense of plot progress, and the lyrics often muddled…They've been directed to play everything in the broadest way, with lots of mugging, shouting, and even screaming."
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February 26th, 2019

“A well-intentioned yet misjudged attempt to combine Lewis Carroll’s tale with a second world war romance...Extravagantly well-intentioned and hopelessly inert new musical...’Alice by Heart’ lacks the hard graft of creating fully realized characters and a recognizable world...The creators have assumed a comprehensive familiarity with the Alice stories. Expertise will decode some of the scenes, but it won’t really deepen or repair the musical."
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February 27th, 2019

“In this version...Alice is a young girl, orphaned in the Blitz, who tries to combat the awfulness of shelter life by rereading her beloved ‘Alice in Wonderland’...I will leave matters there because further developments were too confusing to try to explain...A few of the songs made a strong impression, but they began to sound alike after a while. The talented young cast...was as in fine voice and moved well...Audience reacted to the show with great enthusiasm.”
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February 26th, 2019

“This version has the distinct advantage of being updated from the 19th-century to World War II London during the Blitz, and many of the liberties taken by Sater and Nelson are captivating...But sometime between the Caterpillar and the Jabberwock, the novelty wears off and the narrative isn’t strong enough to push the show forward...The lyrics are another matter...I couldn’t follow them. Reading them the next day, I found Sater’s wordplay vivid and imaginative."
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March 5th, 2019

"Shortchanges characterization and depth for gimmicky effects...It’s an intriguing conceit but Sater and Nelson’s book barely establishes the characters so there is no emotional investment in their desperation to retreat from reality...Sheik and Sater’s score features some sweet and stirring songs and Nelson’s staging does include some novel images...But the sameness of the concept grows repetitive...But even at 90 minutes, this 'Alice' is a tedious, less than golden afternoon."
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March 3rd, 2019

"It’s an incoherent jumble that is gorgeously sung and energetically performed (impressive choreography by Rick and Jeff Kuperman), but otherwise incomprehensible. Lyrics are not poetry, and when they are, audience comprehension can too easily get left out of the equation..Despite many fine performances—and highly imaginative and evocative sets (Edward Pierce), costumes (Paloma Young), and lighting (Bradley King)—there is not much of a legible show to hold on to here. "
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February 27th, 2019

“’Alice by Heart’'s twists and turns often seem rather chaotic. But that effect is in keeping with the rambunctious spirit of Carroll’s stories. Sater and Nelson shed the books’ dark and faintly menacing undertones. But they add an original vein of understated pathos to their version. And, in contrast to the habitual melodramatic arc of musical theatre, they resist the temptation to put a bow on the story at the end.”
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February 26th, 2019

“Don’t expect a traditional telling of Carroll’s beloved children’s story in ‘Alice by Heart’...The production is a hallucinatory take on the familiar tale, and it gets a bit muddled at times...Probably that doesn't really matter, better to simply enjoy the great music and the ultimately sweet retelling of the story...And to reflect, of course, on how we all struggle at times with the need to fit in.”
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March 15th, 2019

"The most interesting aspect of this musical is the parallel paths taken by Alice Spencer/Alice down the rabbit hole...The creativity in the staging is additive to the fun...The show feels like a series of ideas and captivating visuals without a center core to truly flesh out this particular retelling...'Alice By Heart' simply exists to offer some very entertaining musical numbers...This creatively staged but underdeveloped musical is fun even if it did not achieve the promise of its dark premise."
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March 7th, 2019

"Might as well be called 'Sexual Deadening'...The relentless association of sexuality and death gave me, old guy that I am, pause...Sheik’s score is OK, peppered with some pleasing pop-rock melodies...The mood is too consistently dark and the choreography, novel as it is by Rick and Jeff Kuperman, too proscriptive and angular. Though there are all-too-brief splashes of whimsy - 'Alice' doesn't trade in joy or spontaneity."
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February 26th, 2019

"How does Alice fit into a bizarre WWII horror story? It isn’t that Slater fails to seam the two together, it is that they don’t unite into a whole, it makes no sense as anything much...All the energy on the stage is powerful but misplaced, it is too down, too depressing, everybody is in a place of extreme danger, and one person is virtually dead, and all the dancing and songs are overpoweringly negative...None of it makes the slightest bit of sense...It is an unpleasant experience."
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