Madagascar The Musical is fun with a capital F! It’s very true to the first Madagascar film by DreamWorks and follows the story of four friends who stick together no matter what - a musical with meaning.
Alex is the king of New York City, his urban jungle. He is a lion in the zoo and loves his life. He gets fed steak every day and loves to pose and put on a show for the visitors. Alex is played by Matt Terry and what a talent he is. He has a lovely soulful voice and delivers the role with confidence in abundance. Alex’s best friend is Marty the Zebra. Marty isn’t as happy in the zoo as Alex and he dreams of ‘The Wild’. Running without bars and bricks, and enjoying the natural beauty of the world around him. He feels especially melancholy as it’s his 10th birthday. Half his life and he does the same thing every day. He is really fed up. He doesn’t even know if he is mainly a black or white zebra. Marty is played by Posi Morakinyo and is fantastic as Marty. I loved his dancing, even with huge Zebra thighs. Alex and Marty have another two friends that they hang out with. Gloria is a Hippo and she is sassy and with attitude. Gloria is played by Hannah Victoria and Hannah nails the role perfectly. Her voice is just sublime and with her attitude overflowing, she absolutely gives it her all. Melman is a giraffe. He is not a very optimistic giraffe. He sees the negative and is very risk adverse. Melman is played by Connor Dyer and Connor gives Melman so much character and I loved the use of movement of his head and neck to demonstrate his mood.
All four friends live in New York Zoo and on Marty’s birthday they bring him a cake. He blows out the candles and wishes for the wild. When he tells them his wish, they say they have that only a train ride away and you can be back the next day. When everyone has gone to bed, Marty leaves the Zoo to take the train to find the wild. Alex realises he is missing and so along with Melman and Gloria they go into New York City to find him. Of course, no one understands lion speak and they find themselves shot with a dart and boxed up on a boat to destination unknown.
Meanwhile a group of fearless penguins are also planning their escape from the Zoo. Led by Skipper they execute a military style break out but if they ever get caught, they just wave and look cute. They find themselves on the same boat as their zoo colleagues and take over the boat (including taking out the captain) to reroute the boat to Antarctica. Sadly, they can’t read a map and everyone ends up in Madagascar. Skipper is played by William Beckerleg and he is honestly so good he IS skipper from the film. He sounds so much like him it’s unreal!
They find themselves in Madagascar. Alex is hungry but making friends with lemurs, they are offered food, albeit vegan and organic. Sadly, this isn’t what Alex wants. He dreams of his steaks. The lemurs are led by King Julien XIII, a ring-tailed lemur, whose self-belief is on another scale. He really believes his own hype. King Julien is played by Kieran Mortell and Kieran was absolutely fantastic in the role. He was also hugely popular with the audience especially its younger members. My favourite line is the fact he calls the new visitors giants as they are much taller than lemurs. And when they ask where they are from its ‘All hail the New York Giants’. But of course, you have come to move it haven’t you? We are all on our feet to dance to ‘I like to move it move it’. A lot of very interesting moves going on in the audience and members of various ages dance to it.
This show is such a joy. You believe in the characters. You care about them. You forget they are puppets and people and just get caught up in the adventure. What a wonderful show.
Madagascar The Musical is at Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury until 22 September.