Madagascar the Musical

Reviewed by Jeff Carpenter
Selladoor Family and Hartshorn – Hook Productions in association with Stephen McGill Productions and Rigmarole Productions/Rachel Kraftman Productions production
Reviewed at New Wimbledon Theatre
Touring nationally until June 2019
For ages 5+

A version of this review originally appeared on The Prickle

Madagascar the Musical – the adaptation of DreamWorks’ 2005 movie about four animals from Central Park Zoo who end up stranded in Madagascar – really reaches a high point in the second half. Tiny King Julien (Jo Parsons), leader of the lemurs, suddenly launches into a growling, party-house cover of Reel 2 Real’s 1993 “I Like to Move It”, whipping all the other animals and the audience into a wild frenzy. (Fortunately, there is a brief reprise of this in the encore, which the audience are invited to dance along to.)

Photo: Scott Rylander

No other characters can hope to match up to King Julien’s charisma and unabashed silliness, but the mischievous, secret agent penguins are of course a clear hit with the adults as well as the children. Even in the show’s more pedestrian moments, whizzy choreography from Fabian Aloise maintains a sense of high-energy fun.

The new songs (George Noriega, Joel Someillan) are fine, but nowhere near the quality of the Tony-nominated songs in DreamWorks’ other mega-franchise stage musical, Shrek The Musical. The Musicians’ Union may be dismayed to see a DreamWorks branded show without live musicians, instead using only a recorded soundtrack played through the PA system.

There is not much in the show for parents, but young fans of the computer-animated film will no doubt be delighted to see their favourite characters brought to life on stage. 2016 X-Factor winner Matt Terry brings a brilliant pop tenor to Alex, the pampered lion of Central Park Zoo, though lacks acting stagecraft. It’s the silly season, and this fun-packed, colourful kids show might be just the ticket.

Jeff is an English and Maths tutor based in London. He also is a writer and composer, and you can read more of his music and theatre reviews on Twitter. Follow Jeff @ThePrickle

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