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Review: Madagascar the Musical at the New Alexandra Theatre
Culture Writer Tatiana Zhelezniakova reviews a fun and enjoyable production of Madagascar the Musical
I’m not really sure what I expected when I walked into the auditorium of the New Alexandra Theatre to see a performance of the UK tour of Madagascar the Musical. There was undoubtedly some excitement, mainly due to nostalgia – the first Madagascar film came out when I was eleven – and perhaps some fear that I was about to sit through a glitzy show with little plot.
Full disclosure: I am definitely spoiled by high-quality West End shows, but taking this performance at face value – a bright, cheerful show for kids (and adults who have a soft spot in their heart for the DreamWorks film) – it is no doubt an enjoyable experience. The plot loosely follows the original story, with the first act taking place in New York as the animals escape Central Park Zoo, and the second on the titular island as they contemplate a life in the wild versus their metropolitan home. The stage production misses out some of the finer details, but aims to hammer home the moral of the importance of friendship. The set, whilst simple, was perfectly adequate and very dynamic which kept it interesting throughout. While the performance is clearly aimed at younger viewers (which contributed to some spontaneous and cute audience participation), the cast delivered the show at 200% energy throughout.
“'a bright, cheerful show for kids (and adults who have a soft spot in their heart for the DreamWorks film) – it is no doubt an enjoyable experience...'
I was somewhat apprehensive upon learning the part of Alex the Lion was to be played by the 2016 X-Factor winner, Matt Terry, as this accolade can be of somewhat dubious quality. I was pleasantly surprised as Terry led the ensemble with great vocal skill and pretty decent dancing. The other characters did not disappoint either. Marty the Zebra, played by Antoine Murray-Straughan, whose former jobs include roles in Cats, In The Heights and The Lion King, was by far the strongest dancer, which is no small feat, considering the bulky animal costumes the cast had to don. Gloria The Hippo showcased immense vocals (which is frankly not a phrase I would ever thought I’d write, so hats off to the actress, Timmika Ramsay); Jamie Lee-Morgan’s Melman the Giraffe brought fantastic comedy, and impressive puppeteering skills (Lee-Morgan operated a several feet tall giraffe neck throughout).
The gold star for comedic timing, however, I will unhesitatingly give to Jo Parsons for bringing King Julien to life. With one-liners such as “who wipes?” (you had to be there), he elicited such delight from the younger demographic making up the audience, it was hard not to be swept up in the same hilarity. Of course, he also led the ensemble in the classic song “I Like To Move It”, sealing his performance as one of the most memorable. A notable mention has to go out to the ensemble members with excellent ventriloquism skills playing the penguins/a variety of other animals in the show.
“'notable mention has to go out to the ensemble members with excellent ventriloquism skills, playing the penguins/a variety of other animals in the show.'
Overall, this evening out did not disappoint, and while I may not remember any of the songs, it was truly fun in the moment. Though probably most fun if viewed with a younger sibling/cousin etc., if you do visit Madagascar the Musical you’ll have a fun and enjoyable evening.
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