I was eight years old when Dreamworks released one of the most memorable PG rated film of my childhood – Madagascar.
The original cast featured the voices absolute icons, including Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith and Sacha Baron Cohen – it was going to be big shoes to fill on stage.
But the bigger question was – how were they going to recreate an animated film, where all the characters are animals? With creativity and comedy.
We were first introduced to Marty (Posi Morakinyo) and Alex (X-Factor winner Matt Terry) – best buddies at New York’s Central Park Zoo. This was Posi’s first professional theatre role since graduation earlier this year, and you wouldn’t be able to tell. He took to the stage in his zebra suit and owned the leading role, he executed everything spectacularly and I would be interested to see him perform in other shows – you know, without animal costumes.
Matt Terry brought his talented vocals to the stage, and reminded us just why he won The X Factor in 2016. Alex and Marty’s bromance was evident throughout – even in the wild when animalistic needs take over Alex.
Gloria (Hannah Victoria) the hippo was hilarious, with attitude that would give Cardi B a run for her money, whilst channelling Kim K and Nikki Minaj. Melman’s character was portrayed in such a clever way – since no actor has a six foot neck. Connor Dyers costume featured the giraffe neck above his own head, complete with a replica of Melman’s face with moving parts. He was controlled by Connor, moving his mouth and even blinking!
“I’m ten and a half years old, my life is half over and I still don’t know if I’m black with white stipes or white with black stripes!” Marty the zebra is desperate to see the wild, escaping the zoo and heading to the streets of New York as his pals try to track him down.
The next thing you know, they’re sedated in crates. This scene is beautifully curated, with each crate lighting up to reveal the characters as they realise what is happening – zoo transfer. Only, the gang don’t make it to the zoo (as we all know) and end up on the African island of Madagascar.
The translation from film to stage is brilliant – from sets to scripts. The crowd got a few giggles from Gloria washing up on the beach with a starfish bra “okay boys, the funs over!”
When we returned for Madagascar act two where the party really started – no, really, it did! We finally got to meet King Julien XIII, who – as we all know – likes to move it move it.
The hilariously insulting Lemur and his entourage of minions want the ‘big bottomed pansies’ to stay and scare off the Fusa on the island.
Julien, played by Kieran Mortell, really stole the show. The actor spend his entire stage time running around on his knees, which needs an applaud in itself. He had the audience in tears laughing, particularly when he wouldn’t let Alex finish a sentence. My favourite part of theatre is the parts that make you think ‘was this in the script?’, and King Julien really brings the ad lib vibe, which gave even more giggles.
The puppets used throughout to bring the penguins, monkey and other lemurs to life were great. Their individual personalities really shone through, despite being controlled by their handlers – especially with the penguins, since Rico, Private, Skipper and Kowalski have such different traits.
The energetic and colourful show put a huge grin on my 21-year-old face, despite feeling blooming old that the Madagascar film is nearly 15 years old. It was amazing for the kids and arguably better for the millennials that grew up with the characters.
Head to The Regent Theatre to buy your tickets now. On stage Wednesday 25 – Sunday 29 September.