I couldn’t find a suitable young child to take with me to see Madagascar the Musical. Mainly because Mr Fletche was first in the queue to grab my spare ticket. So what did we think of the show? And did we really like to move it (move it)?
*I am in no way affiliated with Reel 2 Real, but by complete coincidence this is the second blog of mine this year to feature the 2003 classic “I Like to Move It (Move it)”
Welcome to the jungle. Or Central Park zoo. Or Antartica. The stage is set for tonight’s adaptation by Selladoor Family and Hartshorn-Hook productions of the 2005 Dreamworks movie. And it follows the same simple story, with a few added musical numbers. Hip-hop zebra dreams of living in the wild, breaks out of the zoo, his friends (a narcissistic lion, a sassy hippo and a hypochondriac giraffe) try and rescue him, they end up on a ship bound for Kenya, ship is hijacked by machiavellian penguins, end up in Madagascar, big dance scene with a crazy royal lemur, lion tries to eat zebra, lion realises that friendship is more important than fulfilling natural desires, cue beach party finale.
The show is short at a little over 100 minutes. Yet it’s jam packed with energy and invention, enough subtle jokes to appeal to the adults whilst keeping the kids entertained. The cast is a mix of puppets, puppeteers and performers wearing full-blown animal costumes. The titular tropical island set kinda matches the weather we’ve been having in the UK recently, when usually Singing in the Rain or Frozen would be more apt.
I’m not sure Matt Terry ever envisaged being dressed as a lion and singing about steak when he won X-Factor in 2016. But he gives an assured performance as starstruck lion Alex, although he looks much more comfortable on stage when he is performing than not. My favourite character though is Melman – Jamie Lee-Morgan is part performer, part puppeteer and has some of the best throwaway lines of an uncomplicated script.
Everyone loves the penguins of course, cleverly operated by a team of excellent puppeteers who lend their own personalities to the puppet. Or is it the other way round? It is Jo Parson’s madcap lemur King Julien who unsurprisingly steals the show. Any actor who moves around the stage on his knees is guaranteed to raise a smile or two. There’s a high-energy crazy version of I Like to Move It in which animals, puppets and audience are driven into a frenzy. There’s dabbing and flossing. I’m not sure if I’ve been influenced by the same drug which caused Alex the lion to hallucinate Raspberry Clouds earlier in the show.
The songs aren’t particularly memorable (giant talking steaks, an oft-reprised song about friendship), the acting is a little awkward at times but it’s fun-packed, colourful, silly and whimsical. And it put the bongo in my congo.
You can still get your tickets to see Madagascar the Musical, at The New Alex Theatre until Saturday 4th August. Tickets are available by clicking here or alternatively, you can call the Box Office on 0844 871 3011. For other tour dates, check the Madagascar the Musical UK tour website
*I was invited to attend this press event by The Ambassador Group, however this doesn’t affect my opinion of the show, and an honest review will be given in all cases. Too honest in some cases.
**All Press Photos were taken by Scott Ryland and these were supplied by The Ambassador Theatre Group Limited and used with their permission.