REVIEW: Madagascar the Musical – Regent Theatre – Stoke


If you’re looking for a crack-a-lackin’ time with your family, “Madagascar The Musical” at Stoke’s Regent Theatre promises just that. Adapted from the beloved DreamWorks animated film, this theatrical rendition promises an adventure-packed extravaganza for audiences of all ages. In the show, we are transported from the urban jungle of New York’s Central Park Zoo to the lush, untamed landscapes of Madagascar, where a menagerie of colourful characters awaits.

At the heart of the production lies the camaraderie of our beloved quartet: Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, and Gloria the Hippo. Jarneia Richard-Noel dazzles as Gloria, capturing the essence of the lovable hippo with grace and charisma. Her performance is a testament to the strength of female characters in the narrative, infusing Gloria with a blend of sass and sensitivity that resonates with audiences. Her voice is exceptional and is a true highlight of the show.

The costuming is a visual feast, with each ensemble member adorned in vibrant attire that mirrors the personalities of their animal counterparts. From Marty’s distinctive stripes to Gloria’s larger-than-life presence, every detail is meticulously crafted to evoke the spirit of the beloved characters.

A standout feature of the production is the use of puppetry, executed by the talented cast. The mischievous penguins, in particular, steal the show with their impeccable comedic timing and expressive puppetry, eliciting laughter and applause from the audience with their antics.

Karim Zeroual’s portrayal of King Julien is a highlight of the show, infused with boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm. His larger-than-life presence electrifies the stage, commanding attention with each eccentric dance move and witty quip. Zeroual’s background in television and theatre shines through in his performance, elevating King Julien to iconic status. In addition to this, Francisco Gomes as Marty grounds the production with a solid performance throughout.

However, not all performances hit the mark with the same level of precision. Joseph Hewlett’s portrayal of Alex the Lion struggles to capture the regal charisma and depth of the character, resulting in a somewhat disappointing interpretation. Whether this is caused by the book, score or direction is unclear. Adapting from film to stage is not an easy task and Alex’s character feels underdeveloped in this production. Perhaps the iconic nature of the character in the film makes the character much more difficult to live up to on the stage.

The set design effectively transports audiences to the exotic locales of Madagascar, yet its compact scale can occasionally feel constraining, particularly during larger ensemble scenes. Despite this minor flaw, the production makes clever use of staging and props to create dynamic visual compositions that enhance the storytelling experience.

The musical score, while undeniably catchy, falls short of leaving a lasting impression. While perennial favourite “I Like to Move It” energises the audience with its infectious beat, other songs lack the same staying power, blending into the background without making a significant impact.

In conclusion, “Madagascar The Musical” offers a delightful romp through the wilds of Madagascar, brimming with laughter, heart, and infectious energy. While certain aspects of the production may falter, the sheer joy and exuberance of the cast ensure that audiences will leave the theatre with a smile on their faces and a skip in their step. So, gather your troop and join Alex, Marty, Melman, Gloria, and the rest of the gang for an unforgettable adventure that’s sure to “Move It, Move It” straight into your heart.

Madagascar the Musical plays at the Regent Theatre until Saturday 18th May 2024 when it will continue its UK tour.

Photography throughout from Phil Tragen.






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