Review: Madagascar The Musical, Bristol Hippodrome
Updated: Jan 24, 2019
It's always a risk when you attempt to transfer a well-known and much loved animated film to the stage. Some do incredibly well, with the prime example being The Lion King, which is now the third longest running Broadway show of all time. But there are also plenty of others which have tried and failed to recapture the magic in a live theatre production.
So it was with some trepidation that I took my seat to watch Selladoor's brand new stage adaptation of the smash hit DreamWorks film on Tuesday night. However, I needn't have worried, as from the very first scene, it was clear that this performance was going to be as endearing and entertaining as the 2005 film.
If you have children, they (and you!) have no doubt watched the film countless times, but just in case you need a re-cap of the story, it follows Alex the lion as he and his best friends, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo, escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo. Following Marty as he attempts to find 'the wild', the friends find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.
With Matt Terry (winner of the 2016 X Factor) widely billed as playing Alex, there was audible disappointment in the theatre as it was announced that he was to be replaced by Brandon Gale for the evening's performance. However, Brandon's singing and dancing was excellent throughout, as were the performances from the rest of the small cast, who worked incredibly hard to bring the animals' different personalities to life.
My favourite character from the film has always been Melman, the 'hypochon-giraffe', and he was cleverly played by Jamie Lee-Morgan, alongside a very energetic Antoine Murray-Straughan as Marty, and a sassy Timmika Ramsay as Gloria. But it is Jo Parsons who steals the show as the surreal King Julien, in a hilarious second act which provides plenty of belly laughs for both kids and big kids alike.
And with those naughty penguins never far away, Max Humphries' detailed and impressive puppetry design should get a special mention, as it kept my young son enthralled for the entire 80 minute show. Expertly voiced by the superb ensemble cast, their well-timed entrances were a delight to watch.
Verdict: This is a really slick and professional production, with an infectious energy which radiates from the talented cast. It's the perfect feel-good show for a young audience, although judging by the number of adults up on their feet "moving it" by the end of the night, this is a show which has as much wide-ranging and timeless appeal as the original film. Go wild and go see it!
Photo credits: Scott Rylander
Disclaimer: I was offered two complimentary tickets to Madagascar The Musical in return for an honest review. All thoughts and comments are my own.