Madagascar: The Musical has lots of fun, smiles, and dancing (as to be expected). It is very much a musical aimed at a younger audience, though there is plenty of enjoyment to be had for all ages. It follows the plot of the film Madagascar very closely, but in case you aren’t already mad for Madagascar, here’s a summary:
Four happy animal friends, Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo, and Melman the giraffe all live safe but uneventful lives in the Central Park Zoo, alongside various other animals, including a posh monkey and some penguins straight out of Mission Impossible. However, Marty soon suffers a mid-life crisis, and wants to experience life in the wild for just one day. One night, he sneaks out of the zoo, with the idea of boarding a train to Connecticut and returning by dawn. As you might expect, things do not go according to plan…
On discovering their friend has gone, his three friends follow him to bring him back to the zoo and to his senses. After a psychedelic experience in Grand Central Station, the animals are caught and shipped off to another zoo in crates, only for their ship to be taken over by the team of rogue penguins, hoping to get back to Antarctica. They become shipwrecked on the island of Madagascar, where life is one uninterrupted party for the bombastic King Julian and his fellow lemurs. But that’s when the animals’ problems really start.
Having seen the film, the musical very closely tracks it in terms of plot, style and characterisation. Some scenes, however, seem superfluous for the stage, and older audiences may feel there simply isn’t enough plot to engage with. It is, then, best suited to a younger audience. There are plenty of catchy musical numbers and lots of dancing by the whole cast. In particular, Timmika Ramsay (Gloria) has a stunning voice and commanding powerful stage presence; and Antoine Murray-Straughan (Marty) inspires with his energetic moves and comedic timing. Jo Parsons (King Julien) works the auditorium, getting everyone up on their feet and moving, while skilfully and hilariously negotiating performing on his knees - the characterisation of most of the animals is engaging, fun and transporting.
This is because the cast works well together and have good energy, manoeuvring well in difficult but visually arresting costumes. It is their physicality and vocal work which draws you into what is otherwise a minimal story well-told. There are moments, however, where the energy drops, often between dialogue changes or when one scene transitions into another. While most of the performers fully embody their roles, Alex (Matt Terry) never fully displayed the animalistic side of Alex the lion. However, Terry’s vocal performance is very strong and adds to the modern vibe of the musical, contrasting to some of his more classically trained counterparts.
In sum, Madagascar offers a fun night out for the whole family, with a fun musical ensemble that will make you “enjoy it ‘joy it, so go and see it see it… do it!”
Reviewer: Amanda Hodgson
Reviewed: 26th February 2019
North West End Rating: ★★★★