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.)
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