Press and Reviews

The nearest we’ve come to Punchdrunk for Kids – Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage

“The most charming, least condescending operas for children I have seen. Todd’s instrumentation is skilful, too, allowing every word of Maggie Gottlieb’s clever libretto to be heard over the dozen-strong band in open-air acoustics. A cushion of strings supports brass, piano, percussion and accordion – and thanks to the conductor Stuart Stratford and a strongly projecting cast, no detail is lost in an action-packed narrative, drawn from both the Alice books. James Cleverton is an elegant Rabbit, Patricia Orr a ditzy Duchess, and John Lofthouse a gallant White Knight. No self-respecting new opera comes without a counter-tenor these days, but James Laing justifies it this time with his fantastical Cat.”
John Allison, The Daily Telegraph

“For music fills every second of the show. Alice’s songs vary in style between West End musical and pure Sondheim; the bands awaiting us at each stage of the journey do Thirties Palm Court and Balkan gypsy; when the Red Queen comes on to sing ‘Off with their heads’ – Robert Burt as a high-camp psychopath – we’re almost back in the world of “The Mikado”. For the Mad Hatter’s tea-party – Tenniel again the influence for a surreal set with choreography to match – the loudest echoes are of the Yellow Brick Road. Maggie Gottlieb’s libretto is sophisticated, but the show is such fun, and so well sung, that not even the youngest kids get bored.”
Michael Church, The Independent

“As cast and audience move into Wonderland from the Grimthorpe pet-shop where Fflur Wyn’s dreamy Alice first meets James Cleverton’s melancholy Rabbit, the 12-piece orchestra slides from blues and show-tune to coloratura and klezmer under Stuart Stratford. Eye-catching designs from Leslie Travers and brilliantly characterised performances make for a toothsome tea-time treat. Watch out for those opposable thumbs.”
Anna Picard, Independent on Sunday

“Beg, borrow or steal a ticket for Alice in Wonderland this summer –  show is FANTASTIC, pure life-affirming joy.”
Suzy Klein, BBC Radio 3

“Alice was enchantingly sung by Fflur Wyn, and Maggie Gottlieb’s libretto fashioned an entirely new story from Lewis Carroll. At the Mad Hatter’s tea party, the Red Queen – brilliantly done by Robert Burt in a livid red dress and make-up. Will Todd’s score, briskly delivered by conductor Stuart Stratford and his 12-strong orchestra, is an operatic melange of jazz, blues and jaunty chorus numbers, with a soaring lyrical solo for Alice that really takes some proper singing – and gets it, with interest, from Fflur Wyn. I could see Todd’s Alice becoming a welcome fixture in London parks, not to mention Central Park in New York, where there is a Lewis Carroll statue with a suitable play area.”
Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage

“The first children’s work commissioned by Opera Holland Park is by Will Todd and Maggie Gottlieb. Aimed at over 4s, it certainly kept dozens of very small children fully engaged at the performance I saw. Fflur Wyn is outstanding as Alice.”
Susan Elkin, WhatsOnStage

“Opera Holland Park has done notions of accessibility proud with its new children’s opera, commissioned from Will Todd. To judge from the attentive, mostly quiet children around me, Todd and his librettist Maggie Gotlieb have pulled off the difficult feat of connecting without patronizing, while dipping a toe in the undercurrents of puzzled adult nostalgia…director Martin Duncan’s idea of having four separate stages worked brilliantly. Fflur Wyn portrayed Alice’s blend of innocence and wisdom with a winning charm…Keel Watson a magnificent Caterpillar. Conductor Stuart Stratford managed the ensemble in the errant, open-air acoustic brilliantly.”
Peter Reed, Opera Magazine

“But what is clear from the premiere of Opera Holland Park’s very first new commission, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is that children have no problem at all believing in opera as a form of entertainment….both music and story fit within a world which is recognisable and comfortable for the younger audience. Todd’s music is well written and accessible. There is a lovely ‘Wonderland Blues’ from Alice and a big green Caterpillar with an aching head (Keel Watson). And later, a lament from the imprisoned tea factory workers comes in the style of a Spiritual, very like Old Man River, where “the pastry keeps rolling away.” A high cello solo, with flute and low bass, is a particularly beautiful musical moment in the show, with its aching echoes of late Romanticism. So the young ears of the audience should be ready for Strauss any day now.”
Rosenna East, The Big Issue

“Robert Burt’s properly terrifying Red Queen, whose Off With Their Heads! number provides one of several moments that arouse spontaneous applause. Opera Holland Park has gone for a high-quality cast, several of them regulars at this venue in full-scale operatic productions. Both charming and knowing as Alice, Fflur Wyn leads the team appealingly and skilfully. Burt steals his scenes as an alarming Red Queen but without actually scaring the kids away. James Cleverton is the benign White Rabbit, Keel Watson the vocally and physically grand Caterpillar and John Lofthouse a touchingly lugubrious White Knight, while Clare Hendrick and Elaine Tate make an unusually noticeable pair as Tweedles Dum and Dee respectively.”
George Hall, The Stage

“Will Todd’s moveabout opera for children of all ages beguiles in a secret garden… this one should run and run.” ****
David Nice, The Arts Desk
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“The cast of 15 actors embody the characters enthusiastically, their voices intertwine harmonically and give the audience the sensation of living a fairytale … the most popular characters all appearing: the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar, plus Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.”
Silvia Baretta, The Londonist
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“Will Todd’s vibrant score, an eclectic mix of operetta, jazz, blues and musical theatre, fills each scene and perfectly complements Maggie Gottlieb’s fun yet sophisticated libretto. Particularly brilliant is the Wonderland Blues, a raspy jazz number sung by Keel Watson’s Caterpillar in fruity bass tones and languorous sustains. The imprisoned tea factory workers’ soulful chorus is mournful yet compelling, mimicking the style of Ol’ Man River; while the Duchess’s (Patricia Orr) imaginatively alliterative solo, brimming with onomatopoeic consonants is a joy to watch.” ****
Alexandra Sims, The Upcoming
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“If you are searching for the perfect summertime treat for your family, look no further. Pack a picnic, grab your trainers and prepare for a magical evening of world-class opera unlike anything you’ve seen before…”
Caitlin Clarke, A Younger Theatre
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“It’s a fantastic environment for an early taste of opera, and the sea of enamoured faces gazing up from the grass proves that little people are well able to enjoy the art form.” *****
Francesca Wickers, Fringe Opera
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“This may be primarily aimed at the just over fives, but Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will win over the whole family.” ****
Views from the Gods
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