Belfast Telegraph

Albarn behind new take on Alice

Damon Albarn has created a new musical version of the literary classic Alice In Wonderland, which will be staged this year.

He is working with playwright and screenwriter Moira Buffini, who will write the lyrics, and the director of the National Theatre Rufus Norris who will direct the production.

Blur and Gorillaz star Damon has previously created stage works such as Monkey: Journey To The West and the opera Dr Dee.

The new work, called wonder.land, is said to be inspired by Lewis Carroll's tale and revolved around a 12-year-old called Aly who flees unhappiness at home and bullying at school by escaping into a virtual world to become Alice. It will feature familiar character such as the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat as well as Dum and Dee.

Damon said: "I'm fascinated by the idea of going down a rabbit hole, the otherworldliness and what that might mean.

"Alice aside, the Queen of Hearts, the Duchess, White Rabbit, Caterpillar were the most threatening characters of my childhood. I was genuinely very frightened of them as a kid."

The Manchester International Festival will stage the production first from July 2.

Later in the year it will be staged at the National Theatre - which is co-producing the musical along with the festival - and next year it will visit the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.

It was also announced that Oscar-nominated star Chiwetel Ejiofor is to return to the National Theatre for the first time in 15 years.

He will star in a production of centuries-old stage classic Everyman, adapted by the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

The actor, who was in the running for Best Actor at last year's Academy Awards for 12 Years A Slave, takes the title role in the play, which has become a drama staple since it was written in the late 15th century.

Chiwetel last appeared at the theatre in 2000 - a year which saw him draw huge acclaim for his performance in Blue/Orange, which landed him a best newcomer prize at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.

His new role will be staged from April and was announced as part of the new season of plays to be presented by the National Theatre in the opening year for new director Rufus Norris and chief executive Tessa Ross.

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