Blur’s Damon Albarn says ‘Wonderland’ show will be an alternative to ‘predictable garbage’ musicals

Albarn has reinvented 'Alice In Wonderland' for Manchester International Festival

Damon Albarn has said that he thinks most musicals are “garbage” and “predictable” but that his new take on Alice In Wonderland will offer fans an alternative.

Albarn has written the music for new musical, that will be shown at Manchester’s Palace Theatre in July as part of Manchester International Festival.

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The show is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice In Wonderland and is directed by the National Theatre’s incoming Director Rufus Norris. Lyrics to the songs will be provided by Moira Buffini, who has previously worked on Tamara Drewe and Handbagged.

Speaking to The Telegraph, the Blur frontman couldn’t hide his opinion of the majority of the artform and said; “It’s saccharine, it’s predictable, it’s cynical.” Albarn, sensing a backlash from his new peers, then added: “That’s probably going to alienate me to a lot of people.”

Discussing the process of making a musical, Albarn admitted he’s been “living in the parallel world of rehearsals for my Blur gigs in the morning, and then being sent off to a room to write,” while stating: “Musicals aren’t written, they’re rewritten.”

However, Albarn has enjoyed the process and the opportunity to do something new. “This is the first thing I’ve done where I feel like I’m in that world [of the theatre workshop], and that’s what makes it so exciting.”

The trips to Asia that inspired much of Blur’s new album ‘The Magic Whip’ also informed One trip to North Korea stands out to Albarn: “That seemed to be a good place to find the rabbit hole on Planet Earth.”

He also found inspiration closer to home: “These rabbit holes exist on every single phone,” Albarn points out, “and our kids disappear down them even though physically they’re still in the room.”


Previously, Damon Albarn’s first opera, Dr Dee, which he also wrote with Rufus Norris, premiered at the Manchester International Festival in 2011. Arts critics warmly received Albarn’s performance in that show, which told the story of 16th century scientist John Dee.

Blur released their first album 12 years in April, going straight to Number One in the UK. Later this week the band play a huge British Summer Time show at London’s Hyde Park.