Madagascar The Musical has hit the stage with a bouncy, upbeat, pop score, great characterisations and cute puppets.
The stage show is based on the DreamWorks film which featured voice performers from Chris Rock as Marty the Zebra, Ben Stiller as Alex the Lion, Jada Pinkett Smith as Gloria the Hippo, Sacha Baron Cohen as King Julien XIII and David Schwimmer as Melman the Giraffe.
There have now been three films which have collectively made two billion pounds.
That it spawned a merchandise empire and a stage show – ala The Lion King and Shrek – was as inevitable as feeding time at the zoo.
Let’s get the story out of the way. On his 10th birthday Marty the Zebra escapes from his home at New York City Zoo. His friends Gloria, Alex and Melman go in search of him.
At the same time a group of pesky penguins also escape.
They are all recaptured, put in crates to be shipped to another zoo , the ship gets caught in a storm and the animals are shipwrecked on Madagascar.
The message: friendship conquers all – with a brush with nature versus nuture and the wild versus captivity.
They are incidental to the music, the singing, dancing and puppeteering – cos this is where the good time is to be had.
From the second the disco lights go on and start revolving round the stage and auditorium to the last clap and shout of I Like to Move It, the mood is joyous and uplifting.
The opening number It’s Showtime sets out the pop-music, rapping stall and it’s off we go and on to Marty’s wistful ballad Wild and Free.
The duet Best of Friends between Marty and Alex is a stand-out Broadway-esque song and dance number – which jives with You’ve Got a Friend in Me from Toy Story.
The penguins get a sea shanty and Gloria the Hippo also gets to shake her stuff before the company reunite for Relax, Be Cool and Chill Out.
The one everyone was waiting for was I Like to Move It – performed by King Julien – Jo Parsons and the company did not disappoint. It had the audience on their feet, singing, clapping and dancing.
No cast member put a foot wrong. Matt Terry , who roared like a lion but had the nature of a pussycat as Alex, showed he was a true song and dance man – and shined in his solo number Steak – twirling cane and all.
Antoine Murray-Straughan who, though Alex was king of the zoo, as Marty was king of cool. He strutted, schmoozed and smoked as the zebra with freedom on his mind.
He and Terry made a great double act with perfect timing at the heart of this story.
Jo Parsons played the camp and bullying Julien to perfection.
Jamie Lee-Morgan had to be master of character and puppeteer as the timid Melman.
The puppets – lemurs and penguins included – brought the ahh! factor to a show which has family and fun at its heart.
It runs – with an interval – for just shy of two hours. Those two hours are non-stop body-popping, pop-music, rap-filled, family-friendly, upbeat and uplifting joy.
Madagascar runs at the Spa until Saturday September 22. Performances are Wednesday September 19, Thursday September 20, Friday September 21 and Saturday Spetember 22 at 7.30pm with a matinee on the Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm.
Tickets: 01262 678258 or on line at: www.bridspa.com