Madagascar The Musical – Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

Book: Kevin Del Aguila

Music and Lyrics: George Noriega and Joel Someillan

Director: Kirk Jameson

Reviewer: Clare White

The musical stage version of Dreamworks animation Madagascar is in safe hands with Selladoor, the theatre production company behind Shrek the Musical. The family favourite is a vibrant and fun-filled animal adventure, packed with laughs for all ages.

Marty the Zebra is disillusioned with his life in New York’s Central Park Zoo, and so decides to hijack the plans of a mutinous group of penguins to escape to pastures new. His friends Alex the Lion, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo follow him, worried he’ll find the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the cage. When the group find themselves shipwrecked on the island of Madagascar, ruled by party-loving lemur King Julien, they must learn to live life on the wild side.

With an age guidance of three years and over and a running time of just 100 minutes, it’s a short and sweet musical adventure which doesn’t get weighed down with a complicated plot or multifaceted characters. It doesn’t need to: it’s pure, light-hearted fun, engaging the littlest theatre-goers throughout.

Matt Terry, 2016’s X Factor winner takes centre stage as Alex the Lion, a commanding presence in his stage debut showcasing assured acting and dance skills and impressive vocals. Jo Parsons takes a dual role as resident tour director and King Julien, featuring in the second act as the diminutive dictator, hilariously scuttling around on his knees. Antoine Murray-Straughan is lively and playful as Marty and the fabulously sassy Timmika Ramsay is great fun as hip hop hippo Gloria.

Apart from King Julien’s party piece I Like to Move It Move It, the musical numbers are not particularly memorable and there is no live band. However, the small cast work their socks (paws) off to extract every possible laugh from the lyrics, spirited choreography and flatulence gags, and it works well.

Tom Rogers’ set design is really excellent – big, bold and colourful, transforming from a zoo to New York City and then the African jungle. Equally as good are the quirky animal costumes and clever and convincing penguin, monkey and lemur character puppets created by Max Humphries.

Madagascar the Musical is a small but mighty, energetic adventure, enjoyable for all the family.

Runs Until 11 May 2019 and on tour  | Image: Scott Rylander

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