Madagascar – A Musical Adventure (Junior)

Date 5th October 2019
Society City of Plymouth Theatre Company
Venue The Devonport Playhouse, Plymouth
Type of Production Musical
Director Katy O’Brien
Choreographer Katy O’Brien

Report

Author: Gareth Davies

For Autumn 2019 PTC’s Youth Company presented ‘Madagascar - A Musical Adventure Jr.’ which was again a great choice. This young company were obviously enjoying the experience, as were the packed audience throughout. Katy O’Brien once again worked wonders featuring so many young actors.

Based on the DreamWorks animated film this musical adventure tells the story of Alex (Jimmy Kavanagh) a lion and his best friends, Marty the zebra (Harry Sykes), Melman the giraffe (Molly Shorey) and Gloria the hippo (Olivia Parsons), who have spent their whole lives in blissful captivity before an admiring public, and one day decide to explore the wider world. It’s not a great piece of musical theatre, it must be said, but this was a very good production.

The characters were well cast, and they worked effectively as a team. There was good rapport between all the principals and, when appropriate, each one came to the fore for their ‘turn’.

Sammy Buckthought brilliantly played the part of Skipper with authority, along with Lewis Higman as Kowalski, and they lead their fellow penguins throughout the action with a lot of silly comedy. The penguins have always been my favourite characters in these films!

Of course, the story would not be complete without King Julien and what fun Harriet Tyson had with this part! She could have let herself go even more, in my opinion, but perhaps she was saving herself for the evening performance. Never the less I enjoyed her delivery of dialogue, her act one finale song (the best piece in the score) and her interaction with the other characters. She is a shining example of a young rising star!

With a cast of almost thirty named parts it would be impossible to mention everyone by name but, throughout, everyone performed to the best of their ability and with commitment.

Choreography was very good, and the cast were well rehearsed in their general stagecraft, often in full view of the audience for lengthy scenes.

Costumes were excellent and the make-up was very impressive. The set design, again by Andy Martin, was outstanding – very effective, very detailed and clever – whilst not overwhelming the space for a large cast.

My only quibble was the sound balance. It was a little loud for the younger voices at times and too often lyrics could not be fully understood as the backing track over powered the performers, which was a shame. My stand out musical sequence was ‘The Penquins’ Sea Shanty’, ‘Welcome to Me’ and the act one finale, ‘I like to move it’. There were several performances which promised there are up and coming principal leads for the future and I shall be interested to watch their progress as they further develop their stagecraft. Well done.

Accompanying me for this performance were my two daughters and the eldest commented: “I thought it was funny and the songs were very well sung. The choreography was great, especially when it was synchronized. Harriet Tyson was very good, as she was loud, funny and her acting was very good. Like the choreography, the singing was great together as well. I would like to mention the penguins, as they made my family laugh, including myself.    (Four stars!)”   

Thank you for a great afternoon’s entertainment and, as always for PTC productions, your generous hospitality was appreciated by us all.

Gareth Davies

NODA SW District 3