From clever puppetry to highly commendable performances, Madagascar the Musical relives and re-invents a well loved film on to the stage. We are introduced to recognisable characters in a modern day form, that gauge our attention and provide humour to all ages. Emmy Award winning writer Kevin Del Aguila shows his worth by writing yet another smash adaptation. The plot still holds very much true to the film, yet avoiding what could be deemed unnecessary filler considering this predominantly a family and kids theatrical occasion.
Themes surrounding friendship, teamwork and unification pull in the attention of every spectator, as we watch the four zoo animals get accidentally stranded on Madagascar island, after escaping from Central Park Zoo. Testing scenarios, dangerous endeavours and a performance packed full of laughs for the old and young cements this story in the catalogue of adaptations that should not be missed.
Tom Rodgers visually transforms the stage in a very short Act One into a fitting scene for the narrative to unfold, with revolving and extending cage-like set and a city backdrop, immersing you into Central Park with the rest of the gang, Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria and the lively, mischievous penguins who were all born and live in captivity at the zoo. Act Two presents us with an impressive transformation from the set in Act one, with more colour, trees and overall jungle setting to represent the characters adventure into Madagascar.
This lively environment is matched perfectly with the boost of energy and overall performance engagement that is apparent in the second half, with a show stopping and recognisable number that got the crowd clapping and singing along wanting to get on their feet to ‘I like to Move it Move it!’
Director Kirk Jameson played a fitting homage to the original DreamWorks feature film, with subtle nuances towards character movement and animalistic behaviour.
It must be difficult when directing such an already perfected and successful story to stamp ones own mark. But by superbly taking influence from the film, Jameson has created a performance that equals that of similar reinventions. X Factor winner Matt Terry as Alex the Lion is the only lead still in the role from the start of the tour, a refresh that sees some new talent step up.
Conner Dyer is strong in the role of Melman the Giraffe and Hannah Victoria is hilarious in the role of Gloria the Hippo. Posi Morakinyo also delivers as Marty the white with black stripes (or black with white stripes) zebra was a particular standout performance.
All cast had moments where they came into their own although the show did feel somewhat restricted – not that any of the families in the audience would say the same – but the show really sprang to life on the entrance of King Julien. Kieran Mortell enjoyed this task to entertain us and successfully achieved in captivating every member of the audience with his one liners and highly amusing portrayal of King Julien. Without doubt a highlight of the show, and a much needed one for the adults after a potentially underwhelming Act 1.
The question on 99% of the audience minds surely had to be when and how would King Julien make his entrance, and would it be exactly what we wanted? Well as soon as Kieran Mortell kneeled, yes kneeled, his was onto the stage, and delivered his first line, he had us in the palm of his hands. By far the funniest character in the performance and definitely gave the younger members of the audience a whole heap of playground stories to tell the following day.
Act two continued to grow in stature and an appreciative audience were on their feet at the end of the show.
Madagascar is being performed at the Regent Theatre, Stoke until Saturday 28th September 2019 before it continues its tour in to different locations until the 19th October 2019, so click here to grab your tickets whilst you still can.
Overall I rate this performance 3.5 stars, definitely one for the family, or for those just wanting to watch a highly entertaining and comical piece of theatre.