I LIKE TO MOVE IT, MOVE IT! Yes, that’s right it is Madagascar. But, not what you’re used to - Sell A Door Family and Hartshorn-Hook Productions have decided to take on the DreamWorks Animation and turn it in to Madagascar The Musical and I had the pleasure of watching it at the Liverpool Empire. It would be silly of me not to mention that it is also my FAVOURITE animated film.

Madagascar tells the story of four talking animals who reside at Central Park Zoo and their adventures as they find themselves stranded in...Madagascar. It clearly has a popular following with DreamWorks releasing another 2 further films. But, I have to say press night at Liverpool seen a fair few seats both in the stalls and the circle empty - which is slightly disappointing. However, it was nice to see a wide variety of ages in the audience that did attend, from the little ones stuffing sweets into their mouth to the lovely seniors who was situation next to me.

I have to applaud Sell A Door Family & H-H for sticking as close to the script and story as possible for a musical adaptation - with many of my favourite quotes being kept in it added to the overall enjoyment.

Marty The Zebra is played by Antoine Murray-Straughan and personally - is one out of two of the stand out performers tonight in this production. I had the pleasure of witnessing his portrayal of Rum Tum Tugger in Cats and it’s great to see the versatility in this actor with his variety of slick attack to movement and energetic characterisation which really captures Marty’s ‘free spirit’. Second is Jo Parsons for his portrayal of the well-known character King Julian. Parsons brought humour, personality and vitality to the stage and was a hit with all ages in the audience. Also, doubling up as the Resident Director on tour...WHO SAYS MEN CANT MULTI-TASK! But, also a mention to Jamie Lee-Morgan who I thought did a fantastic portrayal of Melman with the clever use of puppetry and Timmika Ramsay for the strong role of Gloria accompanied by clean vocal riffs and attitude. Unfortunately, bringing down the main cast is ‘X-Factor Winner’ Matt Terry - he undeniably produced beautiful tone tonight in all the songs (which are quite catchy) and a secure falsetto but it’s not enough. In terms of characterisation for Alex The Lion (meant to be the king of NYC) Terry lacked the energy, demand and ego that Alex The Lion SHOULD have. I also must mention that in the finale number whilst stage left I seen Matt take a few puffs of breath and roll his eyes to fellow cast members whilst he dragged himself through the last few minutes - I had to check if it was just my eyes but several people confirmed my query. I understand that the production has been running since April but there is NO excuse for not giving 100% to your performance every single night - especially when you’re named on the poster - there are performers who would do anything to stand in to that role so please bear that in mind.

However, Madagascar The Musical did boast strongly executed puppetry - although Marty’s mouth did stop moving in the second part of the production and a well structured set but again issues with certain doors not closing fully and being left slightly ajar which is distracting in my opinion. But, I loved the incorporation of ‘Flossing’ and ‘Dabbing’ into the choreography it really speaks to the younger audience members and it was cleverly done.

I think Madagascar The Musical has the potential to be better than what I saw tonight and I don’t think I saw the full extent of what the production CAN be which is a real shame. However, a round of applause for the performers tonight who came on stage and gave it their all. I hope that as the tour progresses even further it increases in terms of energy. I LIKE TO MOVE IT, MOVE IT!

Reviewer: Daniel Cox

Reviewed: 5th February 2019

North West End Rating: ★★★