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Madagascar | Sheffield Lyceum

The essence of the much loved 2005 DreamWorks animation is wildly and expertly illustrated in this spectacular stage musical adaptation currently touring the UK. A nostalgic revival for the film's existing fans with plenty of parent-friendly jokes, the show fabulously introduces Alex the Lion, King Julien, the four penguins and the film's other iconic characters to the younger animal lovers today - audiences of all ages will want to "move it move it."

Visually you are taken aback by the striking set by Tom Rogers, impressive puppets by Max Humphries and costumes by Laura Rushton, making the overall aesthetic not too dissimilar from the movie at all, allowing pure escapism from the get go. There's an array of playful puppetry and animated acting amongst the roles; characters like Alex the Lion and Marty the Zebra (played by Joseph Hewlett and Francisco Gomes respectively) are energetically performed by their actors, who embody both the animal and movie version believably while adding an even more enticing layer unique to their live portrayals.

Other smaller animals like the adorable mouse lemur Mort, aye-aye lemur Maurice and the iconic penguins Skipper, Rico, Kowalski and Private are presented as puppets, played with cartoonesque skill by Laura Marie Benson, Ella Howlett, Brogan McFarlane, Connor Keetley and James Hilton-Foster and directed by Emma Brunton. An exception to the smaller animals of the pack is the outrageous King Julien, hilariously performed by CBBC's Karim Zeroual, who appears in a Lord Farquaad-type fit which hides Zeroual's lower legs while he (presumably) kneels on pads. It's an utterly ridiculous and unmissable depiction of many of the film's fan's favourite character. 

Kevin Del Aguila's book adeptly gathers the movie's main plot points while leaving room for the fun and vibrant songs by George Noriega and Joel Someillan to succinctly tell the story within a perfect length for young audiences (1 hour 40 including an interval). If you’re not familiar with the plot, it centres around four of New York Zoo’s most beloved residents: Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe (Joshua Oakes-Rogers) and Gloria the Hippo (Jarnéia Richard-Noel). The animals' lives take a dramatic turn as they leave the comforts of the Big Apple, finding themselves on an African island teeming with wild creatures. Suddenly far from home, their friendships are put to the ultimate test.

Hewlett's performance as Alex the Lion will have both kids and parents roaring with laughter. Pristine vocal performances were given all round, with particular note to Hewlett, Gomes and Richard-Noel. Oakes-Rogers' portrayal of David Schwimmer's Melman was both endearing and impressive, as he masters a half costume half puppet with a life-size giraffe neck and head!

Madagascar the Musical is an adaptation we didn't know we needed. A roaring success that will leave you and your kids wild with delight! Madagascar the musical runs until Saturday 25th May - for more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Phil Tragen


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