REVIEW: Madagascar The Musical (Sunderland Empire) ★★★★

It’s not every show where a monkey warns you not to take photos or else it will throw poo at you. But it made the many children in the audience laugh and laid the tone for the rest of the show.

Based on the Dreamworks film of the same name, Selladoor’s production of Madagascar tells the story of Marty the Zebra becoming disillusioned with his life in Central Park zoo, so escapes to see the outside world. Worried for his safety, his friends Alex the Lion, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo follow him, but are captured and sent to a Kenyan nature reserve. After the boat they are travelling on is seized by penguins and crashes, they become stranded on the strange and madcap island of Madagascar where they meet King Julien the 13th and his tribe of Lemurs.

Antoine Murray-Straughan plays Marty, streetwise and sassy. X Factor winner Matt Terry is Alex, the Lion who loves to show off but needs steak because he is starving. Jamie-Lee Morgan’s hypochondriac Melman proves his worth as a puppeteer as he swings around his long giraffe neck, while Timmika Ramsay brings more sass to Gloria’s caring nature. But it is Jo Parsons‘ King Julien who steals the show in the second act, playing the party-loving Lemur monarch.

The costumes were brilliant and the set design, bright and enchanting. The use of puppetry for the penguins, monkey and lemurs contributed to the comic mood and magic of the evening.

Whilst the majority of the songs are less than memorable, ‘Move It’ had the theatre clapping and sing along.

At only 100 minutes long, it is a short story but it’s probably long enough for its target of audience of younger children. But this is a night of simple fun and a great introduction to live theatre for the next generation.

Reviewed by Lindsay Sykes
Photo: Scott Rylander

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