It’s hard to believe that it was thirteen years ago that Dreamwork’s animated movie Madagascar hit our screens, and despite a mixed response from critics went on to spawn three sequels. Now Sell a Door bring us Madagascar The Musical, a stage version packed with a brand new score and delightful choreography.
The plot remains faithful to the original movie, albeit in a slightly condensed version allowing for a more family-friendly running time. Alex the lion is the ‘King of New York’ and star attraction at central park zoo, while he soaks up the adulation and free steaks his best friend, Marty the zebra longs to run free in the wild. When Marty discovers the penguins have an escape plan, he joins them, shortly followed by Alex, Gloria the hippo and Melman the hypochondriac giraffe. It all goes wrong and the group of friends find themselves, and their friendship, tested when they are stranded in Madagascar.
The addition of an original score from George Noriega and Joel Someillan really helps distinguish the stage version from the movie. The majority of the songs are upbeat and fun-filled, with the odd ballad which helps drive home the message of friendship. This may be a production aimed at younger audiences but it has an incredibly polished finish, the puppets, designed by Max Humphries, are wonderful, while Tom Rogers’ costumes are exceptional, though I suspect no-one foresaw the summer heatwave in the design stage.
Matt Terry makes a sensational stage debut as Alex, he’s a natural in the role and his enthusiasm spills out in to the audience. It’s Terry’s incredible vocals, including an unexpected falsetto, which stand out the most, but he demonstrates real skill as an actor, especially when it comes to catering for his younger audience. Thanks to Matt Terry a whole new generation will be able to fall in love with Alex the Lion.
You can see a lovely relationship between Matt Terry and Antoine Murray-Straughan in the role of Marty, in their combined performances that strong bond of friendship comes through, while Timmika Ramsay’s Gloria and Jamie Lee-Morgan’s Melvin provide plenty of comedy moments. There are a few gags and innuendos which will fly over the heads of the children and delight the adult audience, but this hasn’t been over-done.
Act two’s weaker plot is bolstered by some fantastic numbers, particularly Jo Parsons as the lemur King, Julien, giving it his all in ‘I Like To Move It’. There’s just something about seeing a lemur flossing and dabbing that makes it impossible not to feel absolutely crackalackin’.
Indeed much of the exuberance felt by the audience is a direct result of the sharp and stunning choreography from Fabian Aloise, it is expertly designed and precisely delivered, and it is without a doubt the making of Madagascar The Musical.
Younger audiences will adore the animal characters and puppets, while the catchy and upbeat tunes will also give them much to enjoy. Madagascar The Musical delivers enough to satisfy adults too, with the buoyant score and professional delivery making this an entirely entertaining night for the whole family.