It may be aimed at young children, but the Coterie’s world premiere production of “Madagascar — A Musical Adventure” works hard to pull in the grown-ups, too. The energy level in that theater could disrupt the orbit of a small planet. Mere parents don’t stand a chance.
Turning the 2005 DreamWorks movie into a scaled-down musical takes a precise combination of silliness and creativity, and the Coterie team, led by director Jerry Jay Cranford, gets the formula just right.
Simple sets and an introduction by two “zookeepers” establish the let’s-pretend atmosphere, which allows for a certain camaraderie with the audience. It’s like having the neighborhood’s best backyard playmates, the ones whose parents build stages and make costumes for everyone.
In fact, there’s a bit of a DIY feel to the production, with the actors wearing human clothes, blinged out with details matching their animal characters.
Alex the lion (Patrick Beasley) has a flashy gold necklace and the hair of an ’80s rock star, while his zebra buddy, Marty (Donovan Woods), is decked out in black and white, with an impressive fake mohawk as his “mane.” Along with hippo Gloria (Enjoli Gavin) and giraffe Melman (Joey Boos), these stars of the Central Park Zoo sing and dance their way out of captivity and into the wacky ecosystem of Madagascar.
That is, of course, where they meet the lemurs, led by King Julien (Francisco Javier Villegas, stealing the show much as Sacha Baron Cohen did on screen). His signature number, “I Like to Move It, Move It,” is still joyously crazy, especially when dozens of little kids are dancing along.
The rest of the music, by George Noriega and Joel Someillan, is almost as catchy. The big intro, “It’s Showtime,” sets the tone, and there’s not a dud in the whole score. Even the penguins get a fun tune of their own.
At a zippy 70 minutes, “Madagascar — A Musical Adventure” can hold the attention of even the most fidgety toddler, thanks to the constant stimulation and enthusiastic cast.
By the time the company reprises Julien’s theme song, everyone is a kid again, ready to “move it, move it” right there in the aisles. There’s really no way to resist. And why would you want to?
Loey Lockerby: @loeylockerby