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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Madagascar The Musical (Comedy Theatre) - 100 minutes, including a 20-minute interval

A musical for the littlies – I speak of preschoolers and primary school age children – Madagascar The Musical is based on the successful animated motion picture.

It is colourful and fun, and involves live action and puppetry.

The premise is that Marty the zebra was born in captivity in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

Although he and the fellow animals at the zoo are well looked after, all he has ever known is life inside the four walls.

He would dearly like to explore the outside world.

And while appreciating what his friends – the fellow animals – have done to mark his 10th birthday, namely throwing him a party, he is becoming increasingly frustrated.

So, that night he escapes, determined to see what New York City is all about.

When his best friend, African lion Alex, discovers what Marty has done, he and their other mates, Gloria the hippo and Melman the hypochondriac giraffe, search for him.

Photos by David Hooley

Unfortunately, their freedom doesn’t last too long before they are all rounded up and freighted off to parts unknown.

It turns out that they are destined for the island of Madagascar, where ring tailed lemur King Julien welcomes them, but has an ulterior motive for doing so.

I should add that four devious penguins – Skipper, Rico, Private and Kowalski – also play a significant role in the outcome.

While the first half of the one hour 20 minute show (plus a 20 minute break) sets the scene, Madagascar The Musical really kicks up a gear in the second act.

King Julien (who we only meet after interval) is gifted many of the best lines in the musical and Jonathan Martin, who plays him, doesn’t waste any of them. He is a delight as the “ruler” – a real show pony. More than once I laughed aloud.

The puppetry undoubtedly adds to the spectacle, with Melman immediately making his presence felt when he appears early on.

Suffice to say, without spoiling the surprise, actor Bryn Monk makes the most of Melman’s long neck and plays up the giraffe’s ailments.

Each of the performers does a fine job bringing to the fore the distinct characteristics of the animals, with good grace and humour.

Andrew Papas ensures Alex the lion is not afraid to highlight his place as the king of the jungle.

Decency is the hallmark of Joe Kalou as Marty the zebra, notwithstanding his desire to experience the “wild”.

Moniquewa Williams brings a feisty streak and voice of reason to Gloria the hippo.

Members of the ensemble bring the penguins to life, making an unforgettable contribution to the menagerie.

The songs – pop tunes and even a smattering of hip hop – are easy on the ear.

With original music and lyrics by George Noriega and Joel Someillan, and book by Kevin Del Aguila, Madagascar The Musical hits the mark.

It puts smiles on faces and keeps youngsters entertained. It makes for a good introduction to musical theatre.

Madagascar The Musical is playing at Comedy Theatre until 15th January, 2023.


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