Ever wanted to see X Factor winner Matt Terry (I don’t remember him either) dressed up in a padded lion suit singing show tunes? Well that is precisely what Madagascar: The Musical offered up to audiences at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre. While this musical tries to live up to the success of its multi-billion dollar namesake with an impressive set design that seamlessly incorporates a cityscape and jungle scene on one stage, it unfortunately falls flat in some places.
The production takes the majority of its jokes and plot directly from the 2005 hit animation – if that doesn’t make you feel old I don’t know what will. This mirroring of its source material is a smart move, as most of the original gags, such as a reference to Fifty Shades of Grey, seem inappropriate for the younger audience. The same can be said of the original songs, which sadly don’t have the same impact as the iconic tune of ‘I Like To Move It’ which was unsurprisingly the most lively part of the performance, getting the audience on their feet and singing along, which the original numbers failed to do.
Surprisingly, the main characters Marty the Zebra and Alex the Lion played by Antoine Murray Straughan and Matt Terry paled in comparison to the supporting characters of the wonderfully sassy Gloria the Hippo and the delightful puppetry of Melman the Giraffe, the penguins, monkeys and lemurs. It is important to remember that this production is primarily aimed at children, and the puppets are what really gave the performance its sense of childlike wonder and joy. The real star of the show however, was King Julien the lemur, played by Jo Parsons, who gave a hilarious performance making both the younger and older members of the audience laugh together.
Overall, the colourful lighting, clever set and strong supporting cast are what really made this musical a delight to watch.