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‘Madagascar: A Musical Adventure’

By Heidi Sutton

Ladies and gentleman — it’s showtime! Dreamworks’ Madagascar: A Musical Adventure is back at the Engeman Theater in Northport in all its glory through May 8. Based on the much-loved 2015 animated comedy by the same name, the show follows the adventures of four best friends from New York’s Central Park Zoo — Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the Giraffe.

It’s Marty’s 10th birthday and his friends throw him a surprise party. When it’s time to blow out the candles, the zebra’s only wish is to go to the wild. After the party he bumps into a bunch of plotting penguins who also want to escape from the zoo and go to Antarctica and Marty follows them to Grand Central Station. 

Discovering that their friend has gone, Alex, Melman and Gloria go after him but they and the penguins are soon recaptured by the zookeepers, tranquilized, and placed in crates en route to Kenya. On the boat the penguins escape their crate, take control of the ship and cause the crates to fall overboard and wash up on the shores of Madagascar. 

There they meet the illustrious King Julien, self-proclaimed Lord of the Ring-Tailed Lemurs, and his adviser, Maurice who see Alex as their new protector from the bloodthirsty foosa “who are always bothering us and ripping our limbs off.” 

While the three vegetarians enjoy the lemur’s daily diet of seaweed on a stick, Alex the carnivore starts to get hungry for his favorite food, steak, and begins to look at his best friends in a new light. Will the four friends be rescued in time or will someone end up on Alex’s dinner plate?

Directed by Andrew McCluskey, the show is funny, fast-paced and wildly engaging. All of the actors are excellent with special mention to the scene-stealing Jae Hughes as the narcissistic King Julien. The songs, including “Wild and Free,” “Relax, Be Cool, Chill Out,” are terrific as well. Choreographed by Jillian Sharpe, the big musical numbers — “Steak,“ “Living in Paradise,” and the iconic “I Like to Move It” —  bring the audience to their feet.

Utilizing the set from the theater’s current Main Stage production “A Bronx Tale,” the stage comes alive through the use of lighting, sound effects (like Alex’s roar and the ship’s horn), props and costumes. The standing ovation at the end of last Saturday’s performance was well-deserved. Don’t miss this one.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St. Northport presents Madagascar: A Musical Adventure on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. through May 8 (no show on April 17) with special spring break performances on April 21 and 22 at 11 a.m. All seats are $20. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

By Heidi Sutton

When I heard “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure” was returning to the Engeman Theater in Northport I was thrilled. Last year’s production was amazing, with an incredible cast that brought the audience to their feet at the end of the first act with “I Like to Move It” and again at the end of the show. This year’s cast would have big shoes to fill, I thought. Thankfully, much of the original cast has returned and the show is better than ever.

Based on the 2005 DreamWorks animated motion picture, “Madagascar,” it follows four friends from the Central Park Zoo and their adventures to the wild.

The cast of ‘Madagascar’ at the Engeman

As the show opens, the zookeepers introduce the audience to Alex the Lion (Bobby Montaniz), his monochromatic best bud Marty the Zebra (Jahlil Burke) and gal pal Gloria the Hippo (Rita Sarli). When we are about to meet Melman the hypochondriac giraffe (Suzanne Mason), the zookeepers announce she had to take a sick day — she has found another spot. Ba-dum-tshh!

They are living the good life and are well cared for. But Marty, who just celebrated his 10th birthday, has been dreaming of going to the wild. When he overhears the cute and cuddly penguins (Robbie McGrath, Sarah Juliano, Sari Feldman and Aly Leonard) planning a breakout, the zebra decides to join them.

When his three buddies go after him, all four, including the penguins, are captured and end up in crates on a ship bound for Kenya. The penguins will have none of that and take control of the ship, causing it to sway back and forth. The crates fall into the ocean and wash up on the island of Madagascar.

There they meet the illustrious King Julien (Jae Hughes), self-proclaimed Lord of the Lemurs, and his adviser, Maurice (Sarah Juliano) who see Alex as their new protector from the bloodthirsty foosa “who are always bothering us and ripping our limbs off.” But when all the lemurs have to offer the lion is seaweed on a stick, he starts to get hungry for his favorite food, steak, and begins to look at Marty in a whole new way. Will Alex be able to keep it together or will his best friend end up on the dinner plate?

Directed and choreographed by Marquez Stewart, the nine-member cast does an exceptional job bringing this great story to life. The show is fast-paced, silly, funny and always entertaining. The show spills out into the audience often, and all of the songs are executed beautifully.

In the end, “Madagascar” makes us realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side and the incredible power of friendship.

If you’ve seen the show before, you’ll love it even more the second time around. If you’ve never seen it, what are you waiting for? It’s time to go to the wild!

Stay for a meet and greet with the actors after the show.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure” through April 28.

Children’s theater continues with “Rapunzel: A Tangled Fairytale” from July 27 to Aug. 25 and “The Wizard of Oz” from Sept. 21 to Oct. 27. All seats are $15. For more information or to order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Photos by Corinne Wight