Madagascar the Musical at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, Review


Reviewed by Alexander Wilde

Four-and-a-half years ago our household of Disney fans dipped our toes into the musical world of Madagascar: a stage adaptation of the highly popular and successful DreamWorks franchise. The musical follows the adventures of anthropomorphic animals who escape from the Central Park Zoo in New York City The musical combines catchy songs, energetic choreography, and humour to portray the adventures of the characters as they navigate the challenges of surviving in the wild.

Tonight, we escaped to Madagascar once again to move it, move it, move it to this elating show! Would it be as crackalackin’ as previously…

Once again, we took our comfortable seats in the stalls below the glorious domed ceiling and excitedly settled in for the curtain to rise. With a buzz in the air, a broad age-range of Madagascar fans filled the packed auditorium.

The lights lowered and a hush fell. Centre stage, a sleeping zebra awoke in what we were led to believe was the morning haze of the African savannah, but was in fact the opening to a hullaballoo in New York City. Zookeepers and animals transitioned around the stage through clever revolving set pieces, complimented by the sounds and lights of a city awakening.

The main characters of Alex the star-attraction lion, Marty the despondent Zebra, Gloria the sassy hippo and Melman the hypochondriac giraffe were introduced in a catchy opening number. Mingling amongst them was a chimpanzee and a quartet of penguins who seemed to have their own agenda… The dancing and singing was passionate and energetic. This was a cast who were clearly giving it there all!

The small number of lead actors were all wearing incredible body morphing animals’ suits emulating the natural world and reflecting their character’s personality, their human shapes were practically unrecognisable. Dancing in them was a feat all of its own! Characters shorter in stature were controlled by sprightly puppeteers who formed the wider ensemble.

The story moved at a rapid pace: penguins plotting their escape to Antarctica with military precision collied with the 10th Birthday celebrations of the disillusioned Marty (the soulful Francisco Gomes in a debut role – a rising star of stage). Before the prideful Alex (Joseph Hewlett) could belt out another tune, the animals were loose – shutting down the NYC subway system. The toe-tapping, laugh out loud musical encounter at the platform involving the animals, a jittery elderly resident and police officer was the standout act of the first half. The whole team sang us to “Relax, Be Cool, Chill Out”. A catchy number we hummed into the intermission. I couldn’t believe 45 minutes had elapsed, that’s a sign of an awesome show when you haven’t noticed the time. Based on the clapping and whooping the rest of the audience agreed!

The intermission was a punchy 20 minutes, perfect for the young children in the audience. The Regent staff were out in force providing affable and pacy service in all areas. There were also themed decorations adorning the foyer and a souvenir stall selling various gifts.

Eagerly back to our seats for the second-half, non-stop laughs and uplifting hits, sometimes blending in pop favourites, continued to delight. Neurotic Melman (a convincing Joshua Oakes-Rogers) and Gloria (the vocally talented Jarnéia Richard-Noel) shared more of the limelight. With much fanfare, the stars were marooned in Madagascar and crossed paths with the scene-stealing King Julian played by, star of CBBC and Strictly Come Dancing fame, Karim Zeroual. An incredibly talented impressionist who was clearly enjoying himself way too much and kept the crowd and the cast grinning from ear to ear. We were introduced to more puppets – the lemurs all had unique traits and it was amazing how the penguin puppeteers switched between identities with confidence and ease. The story and the music flowed effortlessly. Each of the main characters continued on their personal journeys of self-discovery and realisation throughout the second part as the bonds of friendship were tested. Ultimately friendship prevailed and the animals got what they most desired.

It felt all to soon when the closing number arrived, we wanted more! More hits, more laughs, more dancing! Amazingly our wish was granted – when you go, and you must, keep the applause coming and stick around at the end and you may get an unexpected encore…

And yes, on the second time around, the production is still tremendous uplifting family entertainment from start to finish. Dreamworks pazzaz for ages 3 to 103. Get ready to dance to the beat of the jungle drums! Madagascar the Musical is the mane event of May!

Five roarsome stars!

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £13 (plus £3.80 transaction fee).

On Stage from 16 – 19 May 2024, with family friendly double-matinees at the weekend.
For more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 0333 009 6690

Regent Theatre, Piccadilly, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 1AP

The Regent Theatre stands within a clean, well-lit and safe pedestrianised area of the city centre which has benefited from extensive regeneration. The impressive entrance dominates the parade creating a social focal point. Many theatregoers were out front enjoying drinks in the dry Spring evening. Arriving by car, routes to the theatre were well signposted and nearby parking was plentiful. We parked on a street with pay and display evening rates; a brief walk from the theatre.

The theatre reopened in 1999 after being restored to its former art-deco glory – the main foyer is elegant and spacious. We were greeted warmly on entering and felt a buzz in the air. We explored the various levels, and we found the bars/concession stands to be well manned, stocked and of standard prices for theatres. I have sat in both stall and circle seats, both are very comfortable and provide excellent views of the stage.

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