Director: Kirk Jameson
Choreographer: Fabian Aloise
Designer: Tom Rogers
Reviewer: Dan English
Getting the stage musical treatment, and carting audiences off to ‘move it, move it’ for two hours of silly fun, is the hit film Madagascar, now converted into a musical and hitting Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre as part of its UK tour.
Opening night in Canterbury is particularly poignant as many of the cast are taking their bows for the first time.
The musical, following in the Ogre-steps of Shrek the Musical, rarely strays from its source material, nobly keeping to a similar running time to its film predecessor. Telling the story of four zoo animals who escape and find themselves on the African island, the musical captures the heart and soul of the film, entertaining patrons both old and young.
X-Factor winner Matt Terry leads a hard-working cast as lion Alex, who struggles to live away from his celebrity status in Central Park Zoo. Terry showcases a wide vocal range in this performance, and looks comfortable in his leading role, especially during an amusing hallucinated sequence after his character is tranquillised. There is a strong relationship emanating from this small cast, spearheaded by the confidence seen in Terry’s delivery.
Posi Morakinyo performs lovable zebra Marty, desperate to return back to the wild, with aplomb. The movement and physical work Morakinyo puts into the piece is impressive, and he works hard to craft a strong character, with a fantastic bond alongside Terry’s Alex. Often leading the dance numbers, Morakinyo looks at ease in what must be an awkward costume to manoeuvre in.
Connor Dyer’s goofy portrayal of awkward giraffe Melman is amusing, and Dyer works well with Hannah Victoria’s Gloria to complete the production’s Fab Four. Relying on physical humour and slapstick comedy to carry the production, the pair excel in keeping the piece fun even as the somewhat episodic structure falters.
Kieran Mortell livens up the piece in the second half with the introduction of his mad-cap King Julian. Mortell channels the portrayal of Lord Farquaad from Shrek the Musical, spending the majority of the second half on his knees as the regal lemur, and to amusing effect. Mortell‘s silly behaviour is, perhaps, the highlight of the piece, and his flamboyant opening to the show’s most famous musical number, is a treat.
In addition, William Beckerleg works hard with his penguin puppets to bring these iconic characters to life. It’s a testament to Beckerleg and the performers around him, as well as Emma Brunton’s puppet direction, that you forget the performers are there and are lost in the brilliance of the puppets.
Madagascar the Musical just about hits all the right notes, and promises, with this hardworking and tireless cast, to continue to delight audiences both in the UK and globally. It’s hard not to long to journey into the wild with these characters, especially as you move it move it out of the auditorium.
Runs until 27 June 2019 and on tour | Image: Scott Rylander