Animal cracker – Madagascar delights youngsters at the Cliffs

REVIEW – Madagascar: A Musical Adventure
MUSICAL mayham breaks out at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend this week as a pack of wacky animals break out and dance and sing their way from the bright lights of New York to the island of Madagascar.
Based on Dreamworks’ 2005 movie Madagascar this short, bright and bubbly show is a delight for little youngsters who stamped their feet, sang and clapped along with the opening night. Their rousing cheers and the smiles of happy parents at the end certainly made up for any lack of depth to the story – this is not a show for lovers of musical theatre as a serious art!
The show, in two acts of around 40 minutes (just about right for the little ones), follows the original story as Marty the Zebra encourages his friends at the zoo to seek a life in the wild and a wacky group of puppet penguins illuminate the narrative with their own dreams of a return to the Antarctic.
The main characters are a mix of humans in costumes and some creative puppetry and it all comes together well. The Lion King it’s not, but it’s very enjoyable throughout never the less – though the songbook is a little weak and not many of the tunes will stick with you.

But so what? This a show that lives in the moment and the cast, which includes X Factor winner Matt Terry as narcissistic lion Alex, look as if they are thoroughly enjoying themselves – and that translates to a very happy audience.
Star of the show for me was Antoine Murray-Straughan as Marty. He’s the main song and dance man and carries of the role with real zeal. There’s an element of pantomime to the performance too, particularly in the second act where Jo Parsons as lemur leader Julien steals the show, giving it his all in ‘I Like To Move It’ which certainly has the audience singing along.
And a word to for the choreography and staging. It’s exceptionally well done. Touring a show can be troublesome, but everything here works well as the designers keep it simple – but effective.
All in all, it’s a great night out if you’ve got a young family, the youngsters behind me at the cliff were enthralled and delighted – what more could you want?

Madagascar is on at the Cliffs until Saturday: For more details or to book visit https://southendtheatres.org.uk/Online/tickets-madagascar-southend-2018

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