Theatre: Whatever you do, don’t miss out on Madagascar – the musical at Exeter Northcott
A beatboxing monkey, a ninja Granny, undercover penguins dressed as nuns, and the enduring friendship between a lion and a zebra at Exeter Northcott? It can only be Madagascar – the musical.
Any parent worth their salt will have sat through at least one of DreamWorks’ Madagascar movies (I’m looking at you). And if you thought they were funny – if you didn’t, we need to talk – you and the kids will love this production .
From the opening gambit – a monkey popping out of a shipping container, requesting people to turn off their phone or risk having poo thrown at them. The cast has the audiences full attention. Enter a buxom Zebra (Marty), whose padded costume gave me hip-to-waist-ratio envy. Alex the lion, King of New York (or at least the King of New York’s Central Park Zoo). Closely followed by their friends, Gloria the hippo and Melman the giraffe, who bounded onto the stage to offer Marty his very first rectal thermometer as a birthday present. I heard the lady next to me explain what this is to her son (not sure which was most funny).
Marty says; “You won’t find that on Animal Planet” – and I can tell you from experience, you definitely won’t!
The story follows Alex the lion and his aforementioned best friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo they find themselves (and team penguin, of course) on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.
I have to admit, I was concerned about how they would make the characters look relatable in the flesh. Translating an animated movie about animals into a stage play could potentially be a bit rubbish (I’m trying to think of an example but all I can think of is pantomime horses!). However, the costumes were brilliant, the set perfectly designed, it really felt like we were in the world of the story.
King Julien doesn’t disappoint. In the second half, he appears through a curtain of leaves – camp as you like – in a costume designed for a man acting on his knees singing ‘I like to move it move it’ was totally hilarious.
Madagascar – The Musical is a high energy performance with wonderful puppetry. The ultimate family feel good, a visual feast. It -of course – carries the obligatory positive message to children about friendship and not eating your buddies AND you get to dance at the end.
It is a whirling, musical of ultimate escapism, the perfect antithesis to all that is wrong in the world. It is at Exeter Northcott until this Saturday and my advice to you is to GO and see it! More details here.
For tour and booking details visit www.madagascarthemusical.co.uk and follow them at @MadUKTour.
Sidenote: The production is brought to life by Selladoor Family, the producers behind James And The Giant Peach, Seussical and The Owl And The Pussycat and Hartshorn – Hook, producers of the Olivier Award-winning Rotterdam, Murder Ballad, Urinetown and American Idiot. Madagascar – The Musical is directed by award-winning Kirk Jameson with choreography from Fabian Aloise. Designed by Tom Rogers, with Lighting design by Howard Hudson, Sound Design by Chris Whybrow, Musical Supervision from Mark Crossland Puppet design by Max Humphries and Puppet Direction from Emma Brunton.