Where to begin with Madagascar the musical? A vibrant, loud and colourful show that was performed with spectacular enthusiasm and brilliance at the millennium centre in Cardiff Bay. Based on the DreamWorks animation motion picture and performed by musical theatre International Limited, this exciting, engaging musical brought laughter and excitement to a variety of audience members when I went to see it on Tuesday August 6th.
Perhaps the best part of the show to me was the music itself, for as everyone knows the soundtrack is the making of every brilliant musical. The original music and lyrics by Grammy award winning George Noriega and Joel Someillan for me made this upbeat performance, my favourite song of course being the well-known “move it!” Which appeared twice in the show, first simply for the viewers entertainment but ultimately being the song that had us on our feet to applaud the cast.
However whilst this was the tune that I felt most engaged the audience and myself, the incredible talent of Matt Terry ( Alex the lion ) simply cant go unmentioned. The 2016 X-factor winner and well known pop singer outdid the rest of the talented cast, conveying an impressive vocal range that allowed the character of Alex, a performer in a New York zoo, an even greater depth in character.
The show begun with a boom, almost so loud as to startle us into silence, the loud bright colours and stunning audio a refreshing start to the show. The first character we met was the monkey who threatened to throw poop at anyone on their phones! This of course immediately started off the musical with a giggle.
In my opinion, the first half wasn’t quite as good as the second, the characters funny but not rally interacting much with the audience ( despite advertising as an interactive show.) This was made up in the second half as Alex and his friends came on with a new energy, engaging the audience much more than in the first act.
In an effort to establish how the younger people in the audience were feeling, I interviewed a few of the children that were sat around me. The first little boy that I spoke to was six years old and told me excitedly that he love the penguins because of their karate moves and humour. The second boy however that I asked , age 7, explains that his favourite was the monkey because he found the monkey very funny and his favourite part of the show was the very beginning where the monkey threatened us with poop! Finally I spoke to a little girl sat behind me, age 3, and whilst she said that she was enjoying the show her parents expressed concerns that it wasn’t engaging enough and not very interactive (despite being advertised as an interactive piece.)
However they were thrilled that it was a shorter theatre production as she was only 3 and this was her first ever time at the theatre. Overall it was lovely speaking to the kids and it allows me to get a different insight into how they watching Madagascar!
I want to talk a little about my favourite character in the show. For me, the character that outdid the rest by far was the character played by Kieran Mortell – King Julian. This trained actor and comedy genius truly book in Julians life on the stage and made it a refreshingly hilarious second-half. King Julian was camp, loud and rude to all of his friends, and had all of us roaring of laughter, please always do exactly as he is in the movie yet with somehow an extra flare of comical brilliance. For me he was the character that’s stole the show!
Finally, I would like to discuss the amazing costume of each character. The detail and believability of each of the costumes showed off a truly talented backstage team. Robert Allsopp, the creature costume maker,has been called to make costumes for huge broadway shows including the lion king and wicked, but I think truly outdid himself in the production of Madagascar.
Each of the characters costumes want to marvel at, with Gloria in a very funny fat suit and many of the audience members remarking upon the comical genius of Marty’s big bum! Each character had the most beautiful and well thought out costume , with detail down to the puppeteers of the penguins having matching outfits.
This can not ALL be attributed to Allsopp however, as their makeup design was the responsibility of Craig Forest Thomas, who had them looking realistic and changed their human faces into the wild animal ones onstage.
I felt that Madagascar the musical was a huge success and received a well earned standing ovation at the end of the show as we all stood to dance and sing to the famous “move it!” I felt that whilst the first half could have been slightly more engaging , the overall feedback was that the show was funny and enjoyable, the brilliant costume and music making it a musical I would love to go back and see again.
This musical is a huge credit to Music Theatre International, and I’ll end this on my favourite quote of the show:
“smile and wave boys, smile and wave.”