Madagascar The Musical is a stage adaptation of the well-loved Dreamworks film. The book, by Kevin Del Aguila remains true to the original story, meaning the plot is already very familiar to fans and makes the show easy to follow for children. The musical adaptation features a range of new songs with music and lyrics by George Noriega and Joel Someillan.
After a successful Australian premiere season in Sydney, Madagascar the Musical has opened at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne’s East End Theatre District ahead of a season at Crown Theatre in Perth.
The well-loved characters of Alex, Marty, Gloria, Melman and King Julian are cleverly brought to life through the brilliant costume design of Robert Allsopp, while the penguins and other lemurs are portrayed as puppets, designed by Max Humphries. This helps to create the sense of size difference between the animals and works well. The animal costumes and puppets are stunning and are instantly recognisable as the well-loved animated characters.
Former member of New Zealand boyband Titanium, Andrew Papas is perfect as Alex, the lion king, bringing a suave confidence and charm to the role with a commanding stage presence. His onstage friendship with Marty is believable and endearing.
Former Hi-5 member, Joe Kalou is ideally suited to the role of Marty, the zebra, and his experience performing for children shines through. He’s a likeable character and the desire for freedom is understandable.
Moniquewa Williams brings a loveable sassiness to her portrayal of Gloria, the hippo. Bryn Monk is hilarious as the anxious, hypochondriac giraffe, Melman.
Despite the large costumes, all four leading characters manage the impressive choreography with ease.
Stealing the show in the second half, is experienced theatre performer Jonathan Martin in the role of King Julien. When King Julien started singing “I like to move it, move it” the whole audience replied “MOVE IT” without any prompting from the stage! If anyone wasn’t having a great time by that song, they were now well and truly caught up in the atmosphere! The audience were clapping and singing along, tapping their toes and dancing in their seats.
The leading cast are supported by a team of ensemble performers who move quickly between a variety of roles, expertly singing, dancing and acting as puppeteers. The whole cast perfectly nailed the personas of their characters.
The musical stage adaptation of Madagascar works. It’s a great entry-level type of performance to introduce children to the wonders of live theatre, while also remaining entertaining for adults. Indeed, there’s a number of jokes that will fly over the heads of the youngsters but leave adults with a wry smile. The whole show (including interval) is well under 2 hours, making it manageable for younger children. Madagascar the Musical is ideal school holiday entertainment for the whole family and fans of the movie will not be disappointed.
Madagascar the Musical is now playing at the Comedy Theatre for two weeks only.
Photo credit: David Hooley