Touring – reviewed at New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Guest reviewer: Glenys Balchin
Madagascar the Musical was a perfect family night out, full of fun for the young audience as they tapped, cheered and danced their way through the story, against the backdrop of a damp and drizzly night outside the New Victoria Theatre. It has to be said, that many of the adults accompanying their young charges were enjoying the performance of the energetic cast just as much; with the cast bringing alive the animal inhabitants of New York Zoo and the story of their escape into the wilds of Madagascar.
Having seen other Dreamworks productions like Shrek on both film and stage, I was not sure what to expect of Madagascar and unfortunately for me this did not reach the same pinnacle as the others. This was due to the lacklustre look of some of the main character costumes as well as having pre-recorded music rather than a live band.
The puppetry was well executed and the presence of a human controlling them soon disappeared and captured the spirit of your imagination. A stand out for me was Melman the Giraffe, whose characterisation by Jamie-Lee Morgan was thoroughly enjoyable and he delivered an excellent performance.
Although, the show was packed full of songs, none of them were very memorable. However, the dancing and abundance of energy displayed by all the cast members did not go unnoticed and I enjoyed the choreography, especially the exuberant ‘Move It’, but on the same note it was a little bit repetitive.
The plot itself is a little thin on the ground but the uncomplicated storyline makes it easy for small children to follow and remain enthralled by plenty of packed action fun and dazzle. Act two was more animated than the first, mainly thanks to the irrepressible, vigorously imaginative artistic style of Jo Parsons playing King Julien.
A little older than many of the children at the theatre, my companion’s mane attraction for seeing the show was Matt Terry, so she was a little disappointed he was not playing Alex the Lion at this performance. However, I asked her verdict about the musical and she told me that whilst she had preferred The Lion King, she thought her younger sister (9) would love Madagascar. At the mature age of 14, she enjoyed it but was too cool to get up dance in the aisles with the other children and would certainly not have been happy if I had!
Her conclusion was that it is a song filled production, that features a set that is inventive and all flows well. She loved how the characters were portrayed, in particular the Lion and the Hippo, and she thought that the voice of Marty was the same as the Zebra in the movie.
Overall the production went down well with the younger members of the audience and many of the adults that were there. For me, it lacked soul or a pinnacle to the production, due to repetitive choreography, unmemorable songs and basic costumes, however, the cast were pretty brilliant overall.
Whilst its a three and a half out of five stars for me, I’m sure many of the small children would disagree and give it a full five stars!
photo credit: Scott Rylander