By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
It’s time to escape the zoo and head to the stage! The musical twist on the blockbuster DreamWorks motion picture, “Madagascar – A Musical Adventure” comes to life for children of all ages at The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences, 10 Marriott Drive in Lincolnshire, through April 15. Audiences will join the familiar zoo escapees and embark on a truly unique and “crack-a-lackin’” adventure as each animal enjoys freedom for the very first time after spending their entire life in captivity.
“The Marriott Theatre is proud to be producing the Chicago premiere of ‘Madagascar – A Musical Adventure.’ We are incredibly excited to be able to share this story with our audiences both young and young at heart,” said Marriott Theatre Artistic Director, Aaron Thielen. “It’s exciting to be able to bring these familiar characters from the ‘big screen’ to life on our stage.”
Join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the Hippo and, of course, those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto the stage in this musical adventure. “Madagascar – A Musical Adventure” follows all of your favorite zoo friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar. This special one-hour presentation for kids (and parents) of all ages is filled with larger-than-life characters, non-stop adventure, and an upbeat score that will make audiences want to “Move It, Move It!” All performances are followed by a Question & Answer session with the cast.
Costume designer (and assistant director) Jesus Perez assures that audiences will be dazzled by the unexpected costumes and innovative puppetry. “Madagascar is already an established idea, but since this is a live production and not a movie, it has opened up a world of creativity for us. This is the perfect vehicle for me as a designer to bring this fantastical world to life,” said Perez.
I ran out early last week to see this performance, and I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it so much. The story of the animals being “guests” at New York’s Central Park Zoo and then having aspirations to go out into “the wild” was hilarious, given that they were essentially escaping from the zoo. All the animals follow Marty the Zebra played by James Earl Jones II onto the subway system in New York, but they are captured and find themselves on a ship taking them back to Africa. Marty the Zebra is pensive, as well, as he is determined to discover whether he has more black stripes than white stripes. Like it makes a difference! His determination to live another life puts all the animals at risk, but they prevail in the end. This show is great fun for all ages, and, though it is a bit out of the way from the South Side, it is worth the time and effort if you want to treat the little ones.
“Madagascar – A Musical Adventure” also stars Russell Mernagh as “Alex the Lion,” Rashada Dawan as “Gloria the Hippo,” Stephen Schellhardt as “Melman the Giraffe,” Jonathan Butler-Duplessis as “King Julien,” Leah Morrow as “Skipper,” Liam Quealy as “Kowalski,” Laura Savage as “Mort and Private,” Elena Romanowski as “Rico,” Samantha Pauly as “Maurice,” and Jed Feder as “Mason.”
“Madagascar – A Musical Adventure,” a theatrical interpretation of the 2005 hit film, is directed and choreographed by Matt Raftery. The performance runs most Tuesdays through Sundays at 10 a.m. with certain performances at 12:30 p.m. Visit MarriottTheatre.com or call 847.634.0200 for exact schedule, as show times and dates may vary. Single ticket prices are $17.23 per person. Groups of 20 or more receive a discount by calling 847-634-5909. Free parking is available at all shows.