Wendi Peters and Dave Willetts to headline Wonderlands at Sunderland Empire

Wendi Peters and Dave Willetts to headline Wonderlands at Sunderland Empire

West End and TV star Wendi Peters, much loved for her acclaimed portrayal of Cilla Battersby-Brown in Coronation Street, will headline the upcoming 2017 UK tour of Wonderland as Queen of Hearts alongside musical theatre favourite Dave Willetts, who has previously starred in tours of South Pacific, 42nd Street and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, as White Rabbit.

West End and Broadway leading lady Kerry Ellis, best known for playing Elphaba in the West End and Broadway productions of Wicked, will guest star as Alice in select venues including Sunderland!

Completing the principal cast are Stephen Webb as Jack / White Knight, Natalie McQueen as Mad Hatter, Kayi Ushe as Caterpillar, Dominic Owen as Cheshire Cat, Ben Kerr as March Hare and Carolyn Maitland as Alternate Alice / Mad Hatter. They are joined by an ensemble comprising Sharif Afifi, Toyan Thomas Browne, Divine Cresswell, Jessica Croll, Francesca Lara Gordon, Benjamin McMillan, Bree Smith, Benjamin Yates and swings Lewis Easter and Collette Guitart.

Following sold out seasons in Tampa, Texas and Tokyo, the multi Grammy, Tony and Drama Desk Award nominated Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland arrives at Sunderland Empire on Monday 30 January 2017, playing until Saturday 4 February as part of an extensive UK tour.

Hailed by the New York Times as “inspirational”, Wonderland is an enchanting musical adaption of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with a huge heart, a medley of magic and a whole lot of wonder. Here a timely and touching story of love in all its forms, it’s an adventurous exploration of who we are, who we want to be and the power of everyday magic in our lives.

In the tradition of the best stage musicals, Wonderland boasts a catchy score full of songs from Frank Wildhorn, writer of pop hits including Whitney Houston’s ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go?’ and theatre classics including ‘This is the Moment’ from his internationally acclaimed show, Jekyll & Hyde.

Wendi Peters has worked extensively on both stage and screen, but it was the iconic role of Cilla in Coronation Street which truly made her a household name. Her appearance led to her being asked on numerous TV programmes such as Celebrity Sewing Bee for Children In Need, Celebrity Mastermind, The F Word with Gordon Ramsay and Celebrity Masterchef, where she reached the finals. Wendi currently plays regular character Cook Jenkins in BBC's Hetty Feather. Alongside her screen work, Wendi is in much demand as a stage actress with recent credits including Hatched ’n’ Dispatched, Oh What a Lovely War! and White Christmas.

Dave Willetts is one of the UK’s foremost musical theatre stars having played numerous leading roles including Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, for which he won the Manchester Evening News Award for Best Performance, Old Deuteronomy in Cats (London), the title roles in Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George, Max Von Mayerling in Sunset Boulevard, and Adam Pontipee in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Emile de Becque in South Pacific, Julian Marsh in 42nd Street and Professor Callaghan in Legally Blonde. Dave has also made many international concert appearances, including performances at the concert halls of Monterey, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Rotterdam, Munich as well as the Royal Albert Hall. His latest album, Once in a Lifetime, celebrates 25 years in show business.

Kerry Ellis is the leading lady of her generation. Her extensive theatre credits include Grizabella in Cats, Nancy in Oliver!, Fantine in Les Misérables, Ellen in Miss Saigon, Meatloaf in the original cast of We Will Rock You and Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady, as well as Svetlana in Chess in concert at the Royal Albert Hall alongside Josh Groban and Idina Menzel. As well as her theatre career, Kerry performed her own solo tour around the UK culminating in a sell-out performance at the London Palladium and the release of her own self-titled album. She also continues to tour and perform all over the globe with her long time writing and performing partner Queen’s Brian May. The pair are due to release a new album early next year.

Produced by Neil Eckersley, Wonderland has music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Jack Murphy, book by Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd with UK adaptation by Ava Eldred. It is directed by Lotte Wakeham, with musical supervision by Jason Howland, choreography by Lucie Pankhurst, set design by Andrew Riley, costume design by Grace Smart  and lighting design by Tony Award nominee Nick Richings.

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