What do you get if you cross a lion, a zebra, a penguin and a very cheeky monkey? No, it’s not a dodgy Christmas cracker joke – it’s Madagascar the Musical!
The Madagascar films are one of the few movies that I actually enjoy watching with my children. They’ve got a great balance of humour and moral messages, but without being preachy or tiresome. Plus there’s a great range of characters.
So I was intrigued to see whether the movie magic would be able to transfer to the stage. Much as I love Brighton, it’s not exactly Central Park or the lush landscape of Madagascar.
But actually it worked brilliantly. The set was quite basic, with a border comprised of packing boxes and larger pieces bought on and off stage. What was most impressive was how the animal characters were bought to life. The four leads, Alex the lion, Gloria the hippo, Marty the zebra and Mellman the giraffe, are all full sized costumes but without hindering the performance action. In fact Alex and Marty both bust out Strictly worthy dance moves throughout the musical numbers, of which there are many.
The supporting characters, such as the penguins and lemurs are puppets, all with their own personalities. What’s fun is that the ‘operators’ change their costumes in line too, such as being dressed as retro spies when the penguins are under cover.
For me, the star of the show has to be King Julian though. He’s just as silly and outrageous as in the film, and the acting is spot on. Top marks go to Jo Parsons for performing whilst on his knees!
There are a lot of songs in the show, with plenty of traditional musical theatre action. There’s wistful single performances and full on song and dance numbers, including the infamous Move It Move It. That’s also repeated as an audience participation encore and I challenge you not to jump out of your seat and get your groove on! As you would expect from a show of this standing, the cast are amazingly talented and full of energy.
I took my six year old son and he thoroughly enjoyed it. The show is 1 hour 40 minutes long, including the interval and the time flew by. It’s just the right length, enjoyable from start to finish and without any unnecessary padding. It would be suitable for younger children too as there are no overly scary moments.
It really is a fantastic show – it’s not saccharine sweet or cliched. It’s a good old fashioned tale of friendship and adventure with great tunes thrown in for good measure!
Where can I see it?
The show is touring up and down the UK with dates available until next June.
Fans down south can catch all the animal action at The Theatre Royal in Brighton. There are afternoon and evening performances from the 4th to the 8th December.