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REVIEW: Madagascar The Musical – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Madagascar, the much-loved, 2005 Dreamworks’ movie returns to Glasgow in its musical form, just in time to catch the school holiday crowd.

Our familiar friends from New York’s Central Park Zoo: Alex, ‘the king of the urban jungle’ (2016 X-Factor winner, Matt Terry), Marty the rapping zebra (Posi Morakinyo), Melman the hypochondriac giraffe (Connor Dyer) and Gloria the sassy hippo (Hannah Victoria) and, of course, King Julien the Lemur (Kieran Mortell) are all here, supplemented beautifully by Max Humphries’ penguin puppets and a colourful set design from Tom Rogers.

For the few who don’t know the story, it’s Marty’s tenth birthday, and when he finds that penguins Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private have decided to escape, he begins to long for ‘the wild’. After following the penguins out, Alex, Gloria and a reluctant Melman try to persuade their pal to return. Unfortunately, things don’t go to plan and the quartet find themselves on a boat bound for Africa.

It would be hard not to like this, Madagascar is as engaging a story on stage as it is on screen and has enough multi-layered humour to satisfy both adults and children alike. The songs are catchy, especially the ear-worm I Like To Move It, it’s delivered with humour and conviction and it boasts a small but top-notch cast to boot.

Matt Terry, despite what your prejudices might be about TV talent show winners, has a fine, strong voice, carries off the choreography with style, has an engaging personality and can act. He is ably supported by Morakinyo, Dyer and Victoria, who, again, perform with energy and commitment and keep the tiny audience members gripped throughout. The penguin puppeteers not only breathe life and character into their feathered characters but double and triple up on an array of human and animal parts and Kieran Mortell, of course, makes his mark as the hysterical tyrant King Julien.

For a production so seemingly simple there are small but notable details, chief among them Fabian Aloise’s choreography, which goes from urban/street in New York to more African/Tribal tinged in Madagascar.

This isn’t Pulitzer Prize-winning writing, it’s a simple story of friendship, but it’s perfectly-pitched to its audience and remains engaging and entertaining for all ages, throughout.

Runs until 4 August 2019 | Image: Scott Rylander

This post was originally written for The Reviews Hub 

REVIEW: Avenue Q – Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow

There can be few who call themselves musical theatre lovers who have yet to see Avenue Q, Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty’s naughty but (ultimately) nice satire on the lives of the twenty-something human and not-so human, residents of a downbeat New York street. It is testament to the popularity of the piece that after four years of almost continual touring since leaving the West End, the show is still packing in audiences around the country.

Neither those returning to the piece nor first timers, will be disappointed by Sell a Door Theatre Company’s latest production. The gang’s all here: Princeton, Rod, Nicky, Kate, Brian, Christmas Eve, The Bad Idea Bears and of course, Trekkie Monster, as are the now infamous songs “The Internet is for Porn”, ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?”

In comparison to shows such as Book of Mormon, with whom it shares a composer (Robert Lopez), Avenue Qis beginning to look more like the naughty little sibling rather than the controversial, ground-breaking, triple Tony award-winning daddy of modern musicals that it once was (the Gary Coleman reference in particular dates the piece badly). But, that said, it is still a winner. So well does it articulate the foibles of modern life and relationships that it never fails to raise a smile.

Stand-out amongst the engaging cast is Stephen Arden who skilfully juggles the multiple roles of Nicky, a Bad Idea Bear and the show-stealing Trekkie Monster with an ease that belies the difficult character changes. His physicality and vibrant energy are impressive as is Emily-Jane Morris as Christmas Eve whose knock out vocals bring the house down in “The More You Ruv Someone”.

Less than successful is Lucie-Mae Sumner who, whilst utterly captivating in her characterisation of Kate Monster is less convincing in the role of Lucy The Slut and her thin vocals fail to do justice to one of the show’s most iconic songs “There’s a Fine, Fine, Line”.

Avenue Q still retains its ability to thoroughly entertain and remains as irreverent, infectious and utterly irresistible as it ever has.

4****