Madagascar the Musical, Theatre Review, Grand Opera House, April 24, 2019
By Conor O’Neill
Having watched this movie umpteen times and reading one review screaming its praises, I was more than excited to join a full GOH for a feast of fun and, good tunes. And I did get that… in sketches. A feeling shared by the 60% under 16s there too. I’m sure their mothers and fathers have also seen the 2005 movie as much as their kids, but unfortunately not many were jumping for joy all the way through.
They’re all here: Alex (Matt Terry) (he lion, Marty (Antione Murray Straughon) the zebra, Melman (Jamie Lee-Morgan) the melancholic, hypochondriac giraffe, Gloria (Timmika Ransay) the hippo with whiskey barrels for lungs and pipes to match, the penguins and of course on our arrival to the island, the lemurs, led by the wonderful king Julien XIII (Jo Parsons).
Looking through the program, there’ll all stars in the making, and the production team are certainly not new to the game. My 15-year-old niece was dying to see and then meet 2016’s X-Factor winner, Matt Terry (Alex). Thankfully due to a meet and greet after-show elbow rub, her wish was achieved. But even to her young eyes, she didn’t think it as good as other performances she’d seen
The script wasn’t as slick as it could have been, yet the choreography by Fabian Aloise was fantastic. As with all West End imports, no expense was spared on costume or lighting, just until the first outing of the penguins I rarely felt the tightening of a true stomach laugh.
Not all doom and gloom though. After the interval the lemurs were literally let loose they let the fun begin. King Juilen was as absorbing as his sliver-screen counterpart. Plus he played his whole role on his knees. Relying heavily on puppetry (Emma Brunton) to provide the penguins was, I’m sure technically challenging, but it didn’t just seem to work. The plot, the music, the characters; everything was there. It just didn’t seem to click.
And if using a crowd reaction as a barometer, then director Kirk Jameson, will know in his heart of hearts that things weren’t just so. As the closing dance number played and each cast number came out for their bow, it wasn’t until our King Julien and the second run of I Like To Move It Move It that has the entirety of the Opera House on its feet.
Slow start, music sometimes too loud for the actors voices to overcome but a worthwhile redemption after the break.
Madagascar The Musical runs until and including Saturda7, April 27 with a matinee on Saturday at 2pm
To book your tickets, though I’ve heard it’s completely sold out but be an optimist and hope for cancellations visit http://www.goh.co.uk or call the book office on 028902411919