#Ad Press tickets were provided for the purpose of this review
All production photographs by Scott Rylander
On Tuesday we popped along to the press night of DreamWorks Madagascar the Musical at Wales Millennium Centre. It’s a fun family musical ideal for young children and fans of the Madagascar films. Read on to find out what we thought:
Join Alex (X-Factor 2016 winner Matt Terry), Marty, Melman and Gloria as they bound out of the zoo and onto the stage in this live musical spectacular.
This smash hit musical features all of your favourite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.
This brand new musical from Dreamworks (Shrek The Musical) will leave audiences with no choice but to “Move It, Move It!”!
I really wish this musical had been made and released ten years ago as my eldest son, Danny, was the biggest fan of the Madagascar films, he really loved them and this would have been the perfect musical for a six year old Danny. The first film was released before my three girls were even born but they have caught up with our DVD collection and of course managed to see the sequels being released in the cinema in subsequent years. This musical is definitely a must see for fans of the Madagascar movies- it was lovely to see so many excited young children in the foyer before the show (“I can’t wait to see the penguins, Mummy!”)- but it would make an enjoyable first musical for young children who have yet to be introduced to the Madagascar films too. The show is aimed at children aged three years and older and I would suggest that 3-6 is the ideal age. My girls are a bit older, while my 7 and 10 year old seamlessly immersed themselves into the fun of the musical, my 12 year old felt it was too young for her. I enjoyed it but admit it’s not one I’d go and see without the kids, which is not a criticism at all as the show is aimed at children and families and it satisfies this criteria very well.
Fun in the Foyer
We love the whole experience of going to see a show. At Wales Millennium Centre that’s what you get whether you come and see a show aimed at kids, families and or adults. We arrived early to “meet the penguins”. It was great fun getting to meet some of the cast members and have a photo.
There are also lots of posters to spot and a Madagascar the Musical photo board- we were just missing Danny to be our giraffe! The programme was also full of fun facts to keep the kids entertained while we waited for the show to start.
Although not related to the show, we were also fascinated by the Gaia installation by artist Luke Jerram, in the foyer. Gaia is on display until 1st September 2019. Make sure you pop in and see it.
As well as providing fun, Wales Millennium Centre has all the facilities you need to make your visit relaxed and enjoyable. We arrived straight off the train so needed to use the complimentary cloak room to store our massive rucksack (we gave a £2 donation to charity). Buggies can be left here too. There are plenty of toilets and changing facilities around the theatre and there are always staff present to direct you to the closest ones. There is also a cafe, bar and eatery available.
The set design (by Tom Rogers) is clever, bright and appealing to both children and adults alike. The musical begins at Central Park Zoo. We are introduced to the animals and characters in an enjoyable, upbeat song. I think the story of Madagascar the Musical is one we need to tell to children and discuss with them. They are our future and the issue of animals in captivity will one day be in their hands. I heard a child a couple of rows behind us ask her mum why the animals were in jail, to which she replied, “they’re not in jail, darling“. We can learn so much from what our children see and say, we just need to listen. Having said that, the musical is bright, happy and enjoyable at all times. It manages to address this issue without being sad, dark or scary at any point. When Alex the Lion is hungry and naturally tempted to eat his friend Marty the Zebra it is portrayed with humour. When Alex roars the biggest Lion’s roar, it is glorious and not at all frightening.
The lighting (Howard Hudson) is imaginatively used in a number of ways, including portraying a beautiful sunrise, highlighting the animals in their travelling crates and showcasing the exotic sunlight of Madagascar.
The costumes (Robert Allsopp) are fabulous. I’m notoriously bad at guessing which animals cuddly toys and puppets are portraying (don’t ask me how but I’ve mixed up cuddly cows and giraffes in the past!) but even I knew who was what in this production (phew). The larger animals are portrayed superbly by actors in custom made padded costumes and the smaller penguins are controlled by visible puppeteers on stage. This is obvious to the audience but you soon find yourself absorbed by the cunning penguin’s characters rather than the technical side (thanks to the skilful talented puppeteer actors of course).
Alex the Lion is played by 2016’s X Factor winner, Matt Terry and he certainly has the voice for the part. He portrayed this charismatic character perfectly. Terry trained in musical theatre before applying to go on the X Factor and I look forward to seeing him in more theatre roles in the future. His best friend, the lovable dreamer, Marty the Zebra is played by Posi Morakinyo. I would never have known if I hadn’t read it in the programme but this is his first professional role as he is a new graduate. This confident actor is definitely one to look out for. Connor Dyer and Hannah Victoria are also fairly new graduates. Dyer played the part of hypochondriac Melman so well I almost forgot there was a man behind the giraffe character. Victoria as Gloria the sassy hippo has a stunning rich and soulful voice. Kieran Mortell was absolutely hilarious as King Julien the eccentric lemur.
Madagascar the Musical is packed full of catchy, enjoyable songs. I found Best Friends the most memorable original song in the show. The reprised Penguins Sea Shanty was funny as the poor penguins struggled in the extreme cold and Together Forever was an upbeat number to end the show.
King Julien’s “I Like to Move It, Movie It” definitely stole the show for me! It had everyone moving in the audience and I was was even more excited than the kids when we were invited to stand up and all take part to this classic- it was a fantastic way to end an amazing, fun show.
About Madagascar the Musical
Madagascar the Musical is at Wales Millennium Centre until August 11th. Matt Terry will not be performing on Saturday 10th August. Saturday 10th August is a relaxed screening. The show lasts just 1 hour 40 minutes including the interval. This is a good length show for younger viewers, the interval came around so quickly. We would definitely recommend it as a first musical theatre show for families. This musical will make you think but not worry. The overall theme is about friendship and being there for each other.
Tickets are available from £16. Book here: https://www.wmc.org.uk/en/whats-on/2019/madagascar/
Madagascar the Musical Tour
The Madagascar the Musical Tour will then continue onto Aylesbury Waterside Theatre in September. Find more tour dates here:
Upcoming shows at Wales Millennium Centre
Another family (and friends) musical to watch this summer at Wales Millennium Centre is Annie the Musical. Annie is suitable for children aged 5 and over (no under 2’s). Tickets available from £19. Book here: https://www.wmc.org.uk/en/whats-on/2019/annie/
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