Madagascar The Musical
By: Cathryn Macey, TRP Reviewer
Madagascar The Musical is based on the hit film of the same name that spawned two sequels and is a firm family favourite. With such success behind its name, expectations for the musical adaptation are seriously high.
Co–produced by TRP, Madagascar The Musical debuts this week in Plymouth meaning that local audiences are the first in the queue to find out what this new show is about. Can this stage adaptation capture the brilliance of the original film it’s based upon?
Things look hopeful as the curtain rises to reveal a large and colourful set and a cheeky monkey keen to narrate the action for us. We’re instantly hooked and from the lively opening scenes it looks likely that the musical will be yet another feather in the cap for the colossal Madagascar franchise.
Fans of the film will be pleased to know that it is very much true to the first film and starts in Central Park Zoo, New York. The brilliant set (originally built by Capital and refurbished at TR2) transports us immediately to NYC with its impressive skyline. Alex (a lion, played spectacularly well by Joseph Hewlett) is happy to stay in the cosy confines of Central Park Zoo but his best friend, Marty (a zebra played hilariously by Francisco Gomes) has itchy hooves. He’s suffering an identity crisis and wants to escape to the wild to return to his roots. His other chums, including a hypochondriac giraffe (Melman – Joshua Oakes Rodgers) and a sassy hippo (Gloria – Jarneia Richard–Noel) are on team Alex and think Marty should stay put. But when it comes to the crunch and Marty breaks free, will his mates dessert or support him?
We all know the answer! Friendship triumphs and the crew of misfits embark on an adventure that liberates them from captivity. Act One is excellent at portraying the madness of New York City life once the crowd are on the wrong side of the zoo walls. It’s loud, brash and an environment where seemingly nice Grannies aren’t afraid to wallop anyone they perceive as a threat – including lions!
An enjoyable part of Act One is a duet between Alex and Marty. They sing in sweet harmony about their unbreakable bond in a moving little number which solidifies the pair’s blossoming bromance. It’s a super cute moment which reassures us that this pair will stick together in the real world – even if Alex finds Marty’s rump rather tantalising and impossible to resist in Act 2.
Yes – Act Two is as wild as it sounds. The industrial skyline is replaced by an overgrown jungle and the cutest of lemurs and cats join in on the action. It’s pretty much kicked off by the quirky King Julian (CBBC and Strictly Come Dancing’s Karim Zeroual) who celebrates Alex’s arrival with 90’s dance banger, “I Like To Move It”. Everyone is up on their feet raving and the atmosphere in The Lyric is electric. It’s a special moment and one that might be hard to replicate as the show progresses.
However, the musical definitely ups the ante at this point and we don’t stop moving or laughing throughout the rest of the show. Combining the cutest penguins, lemurs and cats with easy-to-follow choreography and catchy songs means that the end of this show is one big party. Add in some whacky limbo dancing, pitch perfect harmonies and celebratory jungle drumming and you have a real visual and auditory feast for young eyes and ears.
As I left The Lyric I heard a Gran say that the show is “worth every single penny” and she’s right.
Madagascar The Musical is an unapologetically upbeat piece of musical theatre which is perfect for kids. If your half term needs a lift, it’s time to “move it move it” King Julian style and grab a ticket fast!