EXETER & TOURING
THE NORTHCOTT THEATRE – TILL 17 NOVEMBER
MADAGASCAR – THE MUSICAL by Kevin Del Aguila, George Noriega and Joel Someillan
RUNNING TIME – 1 hour 50 minutes – 1 interval
Northcott Box Office – 01392 726363
CORMAC RICHARDS – 13 November 2018
It is difficult to look past The Lion King when it comes to successful transfers of cartoon films to stage shows; with its solid story, loosely based on Hamlet, and its mix of laughter, excitement, tension and emotion as well as the incredible staging, it’s brilliant. Madagascar is a different kettle of fish, smaller in scale but with a successful film franchise to back it up this transfer to the stage. Where Disney’s The Lion King seeks to appeal to a wide audience, Madagascar is firmly aimed at younger audiences, but contains much that everyone can enjoy.
The adventures of Alex (Lion), Marty (Zebra), Melman (Giraffe) and Gloria (Hippo) are fun, colourful and funny and although the plot isn’t of any consequence, the 90-minute running time zips along leaving no dull spots.
The designs are everything when bringing an animated film to the stage and the work design team here have ticked all the boxes. From the simple, but effective sets to the costumes and puppets, they are faithful to the source material and provide entertainment for the eye. The mixture of actors and puppeteers (again mirroring The Lion King stage show) works very well and the skills of those doing the manipulating cannot be understated – they are excellent.
It is always a pity when the performer who is headlining the show is unable to perform through illness, former X-Factor winner, Matt Terry, was missing from the Press Night – as he is only really known for singing, we cannot judge how his acting was. His replacement, Brandon Gale, was a likeable if rather under-powered Alex. I would have liked him to provide a more expansive performance, not least as he was faced with others who rather put him in the shade. As Marty, Antoine Murray-Straughan was excellent in all departments and dominated the first act. Jamie Lee-Morgan was a lovely Melman – a hypochondriac giraffe with a wonderfully versatile neck. As the sassy, straight-talking Gloria, Timmika Ramsay was spot-on.
Among the puppets in show were 4 wonderful penguins – who are disguised as nuns at one point – and some loveable if, slightly mad ring-tailed lemurs who are ruled over by their King. As King Julien, Jo Parsons steals the show as the hilarious monarch with an unplaceable accent and a brilliant rapport with the audience. The lengthy comments about farting made me weep with laughter – yes, it is base humour, but every member of the audience was in hysterics – a masterclass of comic delivery.
This is a small-scale show, but well put together and performed with great skill and fun. It’s lively and a good watch. It really comes alive in the second half and provides the audience with a very engaging theatre experience.
ALEX – BRANDON GALE
MARTY – ANTOINE MURRAY-STRAUGHAN
MELMAN – JAMIE LEE-MORGAN
GLORIA – TIMMIKA RAMSAY
KING JULIEN – JO PARSONS
ENSEMBLE – SHANE MCDAID, MATTHEW PENNINGTON, LAURA JOHNSON, JESSICA NILES, VICTORIA BODEN, DARREN JOHN
BOOK BY KEVIN DEL AGUILA
ORIGINAL MUSIC & LYRICS – GEORGE NORIEGA & JOEL SOMEILLAN
DIRECTOR – KIRK JAMESON
CHOREOGRAPER – FABIAN ALOISE
DESIGNER – TOM ROGERS
LIGHTING DESIGN – HOWARD HUDSON
SOUND DESIGNER – CHRIS WYBROW
MUSICAL DIRECTOR – ANGHARAD SANDERS
PUPPET DESIGNER – MAX HUMPHRIES
PUPPET DIRECTOR – EMMA BRUNTON