Alex, Melman, Marty and Gloria with the penguin backing group at Grand Central Station

Madagascar – the Musical

The New Alexandra Theatre


Never seen a hippopotamus do the splits? Then try the Alex which has found a cracker of a family show for the school summer holidays.

DreamWorks’ 2005 film was a box office hit and Selladoor has brought the tale of the rebel zoo inmates to the stage in a fun musical.

It opens in Central Park Zoo with Marty the zebra, a lovely laid back, cool dude performance from Antoine Murray-Straughan (Cats), celebrating his 10th birthday with his best friends Alex the lion, the King of New York, played by 2016 X-Factor winner Matt Terry on his acting debut, and the boy done good.

Then there is Melman, the hypochondriac giraffe, played with a bit of a sniffle, and possibly a temperature, by Jamie Lee-Morgan (War Horse) and, adding ballast to proceedings, Gloria, the fun loving Hippo.

Alex and Marty have padded costumes which make dancing a challenge but Timmika Ramsay has her own personal sauna in her hippo costume and yet still manages plenty of classy dance moves including that hippo splits.

The quartet are all humans in clever costumes then come the puppets led by the mutinous penguins commanded by Skipper (operated by Shane McDaid), with Kowalski (Laura Johnson), Private (Jessica Niles) and Rico (Victoria Boden). The Penguins are their own guerrilla movement, digging an escape tunnel - as well as acting as the backing singers for anyone breaking into song.


Skipper's penguins planning their version of The Great Escape

Back to their day job though, and the penguins are determined to escape and go home to Antarctica, to live in the wild, sparking the wanderlust in Marty who wants to go to Connecticut to experience the wild himself, intending to be back in the early morning before he was missed. Connecticut being the nearest wild he could think of only a short train ride away.

So with the scent of freedom on the air he follows the penguins and escapes, and his three friends set out to bring him back, but the plan goes belly up and penguins and the quartet are all recaptured and packed in crates to be returned to Africa - but ended up instead in Madagascar after a penguin mutiny sends the ship off course.

That brings in the resident lemurs and King Julien XIII, a sort of furry, fun distant cousin of Lord Farquaad from Shrek, played with a constant smile and novel pronunciation by resident director Jo Parsons. He also leads the cast and indeed the whole audience with the infectious I like to Move it.

Director Kirk Jameson keeps up a good pace while Tom Rodgers setting is simple and effective with a frame and floor of animal crates and walls, jungle, cages and subway entrances sliding in and out with no breaks in action.

Costumes, made by Robert Allsopp help bring the characters to life while Max Humphries’ puppets have a life of their own.

Shows like this will only add to Sellador’s growing reputation for producing solid, reliable entertainment. It is a lovely tale for families, well-acted, with lively music, it’s colourful and fun and with a curtain down at 9:15 it is not too late a finish for youngsters. To 04-08-18

Roger Clarke


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