Musical Promises Wonder

"Wonderland," the upcoming locally produced musical at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, a takeoff on Disney's "Alice in Wonderland," should bring a substantial economic tea party to the Tampa Bay region.

The Center estimates that the show will fill 10,000 hotel rooms and that direct spending from the production locally will be $8.136 million and generate $1.366million in local and state tax revenue, says Michael Kilgore, vice president of marketing and
consumer experience for the Center. The production starts its world premiere in Tampa Nov. 24 and will travel to Houston, and most likely a host of other cities next.

The Center has hosted locally produced theater before, but not on the scale of "Wonderland," Kilgore says. "This is a much, much bigger production," he says. It has 24 cast members who arrived Oct. 12 and will be in town until Jan. 3.

The writers are a veteran Broadway team and the director is from the Alvin Alley Theater in Houston. There is also an unrelated, but similarly themed movie, starring Johnny Depp, that is also attracting a buzz to the classic Disney tale.

"Wonderland will be in Ferguson Hall, the second-largest of the Center's facilities in downtown Tampa, with 1,100 seats.

Part of the idea for buying the script for "Wonderland," was to encourage other writers and directors to start productions in the Tampa Bay area.

"We want other productions to come down," Kilgore says. "We have the rehearsal space. We're in Florida. We're in the same time zone as New York. People who want to come back and forth from here and New York can do so a lot easier than cross country to California. We also have planety of hotels close by."

Dave Szymanski, a Tampa-based journalist, likes running 5ks, other sports and writing poetry. Comments?
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