Madagascar: The Musical Review at York Theatre Royal

We all know and love the Dreamworks film that forms the basis of this vibrant stage adaptation. The show is about a group of quirky zoo animals who make a break for it and end up loose in New York City. When they’re caught and on a ship on their way to another zoo, they escape again and end up lost in Madagascar. Can the group of very different friends survive in the wild?

It’s a classic family friendly show, with plenty of silly humour and bouncing tunes to keep the kids entertained. The show reminds me of Shrek in many ways, with stunning bright sets and costumes and modern poppy songs. The story is also heart-warming and brilliantly unrealistic – how the zoo creatures make their great escape isn’t covered at all but we still root for them throughout. There’s a little too many immature jokes that seem to last an age in the second half, but it’s generally all great fun and kids will absolutely love it.

The cast is small but mighty, with the ensemble cast playing many parts from zookeepers through to sneaky penguins. Jo Parsons’ performance as King Julien goes down a treat, particularly his incredibly funky version of I Like To Move It. As resident Director of the show, he’s clearly got a great gauge for what the audience wants and really plays the part for the laughs.

Jamie Lee-Morgan as Melman, Timmika Ramsay as Gloria and Antone Murray-Straughan as Marty are all powerful performers and deliver their cartoony characters with plenty of energy.

That brings me on to the star of our show, poor, poor Matt Terry. Things haven’t quite gone to plan since winning The X Factor in 2016. Instead of packing out arena tours or starring in West End musicals, he’s here playing a podgy, disgruntled lion. I just hope he’s getting paid a fair packet for it.

He tries his best to deliver the part with sincerity and conviction, and his voice is undoubtedly exceptional, but I can’t help but feel really sorry for him throughout. His jazzy, big band number is his chance to shine – but unfortunately it’s just a love song about steak

The main downfall, I think, is the style of costume (designed by Robert Allsopp). Most of the cast look ridiculous. Though the silly suits are in keeping with the style of cartoon in the film version, on a human being they look really daft and I believe this probably impacts the cast’s performance. I know I’d feel self-conscious wearing a jiggly hippo suit.

The show is a really fun laugh, with plenty of variety from cute duets about friendship to grand escape scenes. It’ll definitely put a big smile on your face.

Madagascar: The Musical runs from 26th February to 2nd March at York Theatre Royal.

 

 

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