Reviewed by Joanne Hughes
A wild ride to the wild side!
The animation film Madagascar is a firm family favourite loved by many, thus, as with any film being adapted for stage, the question on everyone’s lips was ‘Can it live up to our expectations?’ Well, there was no doubt with this production from Selladoor, that these expectations were not only met, but wildly surpassed! Featuring the well-known characters of Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman, this show is a colourful affair packed with cheesy comedy, upbeat songs and lively dances.
From the moment we entered the auditorium, we could feel the buzz of excitement around us. Every seat appeared filled, with everyone from young to old awaiting with exuberant anticipation. We didn’t have to wait long, as the opening scene went straight into ‘show-time’ at New York’s Central Park Zoo with star attraction, ‘King of New York Zoo’ Alex, bursting into song and roar.
The musical story stays true to that of the film; Marty, the zany zebra, is tired of being trapped in a zoo, and dreams of running free in the wild; so, when he overhears the penguins plan to escape, he decides to follow them. Alex (the adored lion), Gloria (the sassy hippo), and Melman (the hypochondriac giraffe), consequently, embark on a mission to find their friend and bring him home. But, as with any good story, things go wrong, and they all end up in the wilds of Madagascar amid both carnivorous and caring animals. Their friendship is put to the test, particularly between Alex and Marty once Alex starts to feel the pangs of hunger. But their devotion to each other wins through, and, with the help of the penguins, they manage to return home.
It’s no mean feat filling the paws/hooves of such well-loved animal characters, but this cast have it down to a ’t’ – my son thought they were the movie personalities as they sounded so like them. Brandon Gale, who stepped in at the last minute to play Alex, did so with great enthusiasm and skill – he was definitely ‘King of the stage’. Antoine Murray-Straughan’s rapping and dance moves delight everyone, whilst the comical interaction between Gloria, played by Timmika Ramsay, and Melman – Jamie Lee-Morgan – had both the young and old in stitches.
In the second half, Jo Parsons’ King Julien, the party-loving Lemur king, was brilliant, and had the whole audience clapping away to his uproarious ’move it, move it’ routine – an impressive accomplishment in his stunning costume.
The boat trip scene really highlights the brilliance of the set design, as the crates open up to show the animals trapped inside – ingenious; and the cleverly designed costumes are a credit to the designer, Tom Rogers. Throughout the show, the catchy, upbeat tunes and the stunning dance choreography has everyone feeling high-spirited – the flossing sequence had my little one jiggling in his seat, and the talking steak routine was just comical. The puppetry was incredible, particularly that of the suave team of penguins, and added a special touch to the show.
The whole performance was expertly delivered, providing a fantastic evening of entertainment, laughter, song and dance – a truly ‘wild’ experience.
This magical musical is currently playing at the impressive New Victoria Theatre in Woking. This theatre is situated at the top of the Peacock Shopping Centre, which has a covered car-park attached. The theatre is modern and has several bars where you can purchase food and drink, as well as additional features such as an amplified sound system for the hard of hearing. Pre-show, and during intervals, there is a pianist playing in the middle bar, and there are plenty of toilet facilities on each floor.
So, if you love the films, and adore being entertained, ‘move it, move it’ and go enjoy a wonderful evening watching Madagascar The Musical.
Tickets cost from £13 to £49.40 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).
Madagascar The Musical is at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking from 12-16 March 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/new-victoria-theatre or call the box office on 0844 871 7645.
New Victoria Theatre, The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6GQ