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Theatre Review: Madagascar the Musical ***

Jo Turbitt reviews the musical staging of the hit animated film.

Madagascar the Musical? Really?! Yes: it’s a thing, and if you’re a fan of the film then you won’t be disappointed. The show has all the wit of the DreamWorks script, the characters on stage are full of cartoon-exaggerated-oomph and the plot doesn’t deviate at all from the original film.

So far, so good. The show engages its target audience and does what it says on the tin: it’s a musical. Of Madagascar. The movie.

The merits of the translation of screen to stage lie in the skilled hands and performances of the puppeteers of the penguins, the lemurs and the monkey, along with Jo Parsons who steals the show as King Julien, magnificently bringing him into being through brilliant comic timing and delivery.

In order to meet with the expectations of the show’s target audience, the similarities with the movie had to be inherent; the staging has cartoon stylistic simplicity with design references back to the film, and the performers of the four main characters bring them to life with evident co-relations to those in the animation.

What frames these merits and packages them up as a musical are where the production drops in standing: the costumes for the four leads would be best sold in a fancy dress shop, the artistic interpretation/translation is lacking, the musical numbers (bar one) lack imagination and innovation within the choreography/musical staging and the songs lack… well they lack musicality! ‘I Like to Move It, Move It’ steals the show (as it does in the film), and that’s the memorable tune of the night, but something tells me that those responsible for the production know that.

Often I thought I was tripping, and in other moments I was caught up in the sheer unapologetic craziness, again mainly thanks to Jo Parsons. If The Lion King was too arty for you, go and see this.

Madagascar the Musical was reviewed last week at the Edinburgh Playhouse. Its tour continues.

Tags: theatre

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