Madagascar the Musical, based on the smash-hit 2005 animation, follows the adventures of Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman – a lion, zebra, hippopotamus and giraffe, respectively – as they break out of Central Park Zoo in search of a (somewhat last-minute) freedom. After an altercation at Grand Central Station, they are bundled up onto a cargo ship and sent far away before a certain group of mischievous penguins take command of the vessel and end up accidentally depositing the motley crew in Madagascar, where all manner of new experiences are to be found.
Admittedly, the show took a while to find its feet (with the escapees not arriving in Madagascar until after the interval), but the second act more than made up for it with an abundance of joyous ensemble numbers and a hilarious appearance from King Julien (the reigning ring-tailed lemur, side-splittingly portrayed by Jo Parsons). Matt Terry’s understated honey vocals led the show with a quiet and charming confidence, and he was the icing on the cake of a particularly well-cast company.
Unfortunately, the score itself was largely forgettable, with a few recurring motifs carrying the brunt of the entire musical. It was somewhat disappointing, but the familiarity afforded to it by the film worked to conceal such a creative oversight, and I dare say it would not have fared so well if it did not have the association of its older sibling. Nevertheless, it was clear that those on stage were having a good time, and as a result there was a large grin on my face throughout.
Visually, the production is a colourful feast for the eyes, and Max Humphries’ puppet design is exceptional. With such a wide range of animals involved, it was impressive how seamlessly the cast transformed into different characters and how effortless they brought the puppets to life. Capturing the essence of the film animation with its stylised aesthetic, both set and costume complement each other in achieving a cartooned effect.
An entertaining evening, Madagascar the Musical is an on-stage party. Though it may be jagged in execution, it overflows with energy: ticking all the boxes for a younger audience.
Madagascar the Musical runs at the Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday 6th October 2018.