Adapting from screen to stage has many difficulties to overcome, even more so when it’s an animated movie like DreamWorks’ Madagascar (2005).
This joint production by Selladoor Worldwide and Theatre Royal Plymouth manages just that in this musical zoological adventure of Madagascar the Musical at the Manchester Opera House.
Marty (Francisco Gomes) is a zebra with a dream of one day running free in the wild after a lifetime spent in captivity at the New York Zoo.
Madagascar at the Opera House
However, this dream is not shared by his three friends, Alex the Lion (Joseph Hewlett) the main yet vain star attraction of the zoo, sassy hippo Gloria (Jarnéia Richard-Noel) and hypochondriac giraffe Melman (Joshua Oakes-Rogers).
When Marty breaks out, his friends try to rescue him which sees all four locked in crates and sent on their way to Kenya, only for the ship to be hijacked by a spy team of Penguins, which sees the main characters thrown overboard and forced to survive on the wild island of Madagascar.
The show is quite short at 1 hour 45 minutes with an interval but follows the plot of the film and has a longer run time than its 2005 predecessor.
The show’s first half starts slower, as the songs set up the characters in their New York Zoo home and lead to their eventual escape.
Act two is a lot more action-packed and begins from when the cast are washed up on the shores of Madagascar.
The show is one for the children but still contains jokes and gags from the film that both parents and returning fans of the film series will still enjoy.
Joseph Hewlett as Alex
Joseph Hewlett channels his inner Ben Stiller in his entertaining performance of Alex and succeeds in bringing the character from film to the stage, so too does Jarnéia Richard-Noel in her role as Gloria who also displays her great vocal talent in the
shows litany of original songs.
Francisco Gomes and Joshua Oakes-Rogers round out the main cast with their fun takes on the characters of Marty and Melman.
The incredible penguins of Madagascar
The Penguins, Skipper (Connor Keetley), Kowalski (Laura Marie Brennan), Rico (Ella Howlett) and Private (Brogan McFarlane) are always a fun presence when they are on stage, recreating their scene stealing roles from the original film as they go
from smiling and waving to plotting out Mission Impossible style missions on their journey to go home to Antarctica that runs parallel to the plot of the main cast.
And the posh yet pretentious monkey, Mason (James Hilton-Foster) is also a good source of comedy with his cameo appearances throughout the show.
Karim Zeroual enters the second act as King Julian and almost takes over the show with his hilarious interpretation of Sacha Baron Cohen’s character and with his own rendition of the fan favourite song, “I Like to Move It” that is always a crowd pleaser.
The set design (based on the original set by Tom Rogers) is a real strength of the show particularly in the second act which sees the bright locales of Madagascar almost lifted from the screen onto the stage.
Another is the excellent animal puppets (designed by Max Humphries and directed by Emma Brunton) such as the penguins, the lemurs and Mason the Monkey that complement the costumed cast, that is an inventive way of bringing DreamWorks’ vibrant animated characters to life.
With laughs, songs, props and choreography, this ambitious musical succeeds in bringing a classic animated film to the stage and is a fun evening for both fans of the original and new fans alike.
Madagascar the Musical is on at the Opera House from 9th to 11th of February.
You can get tickets by clicking here