Review: Madagascar The Musical, York Theatre Royal, 7pm, Friday; 2.30pm and 7pm, Saturday. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

THIS is York Theatre Royal’s show for half-term week, a touring musical from the Dreamworks stable that will delight children and parents.

Hartshorn Hook Productions and fellow producers Selladoor are taking Madagascar The Musical around the country with a cast led by Matt Terry, 2016 winner of The X Factor, who had earlier trained in musical theatre on a scholarship and now puts that training into practice in his first stage musical tour.

He is playing Alex the lion, king of all the animals in New York’s Central Park Zoo, with his regular routine of eating steak and hanging out with Marty (Antoine Murray-Straughan), the irrepressible zebra. Marty, however, has had enough of life in black and white; he wants more colour, more excitement, and so he decides to break out of the zoo.

Joining him in this escape caper are Alex, Jamie Lee-Morgan’s hypochondriac giraffe, Melman, and Timmika Ramsay’s hip, hip-swivelling big mama of a hippo, Gloria.

Oh, and so too are the penguins, Skipper, Kowalski, Private and Rico, seeking a return home to the frozen poles of Antarctica; their destiny in the hands of puppeteers Shane McDaid, Laura Johnson, Jessica Niles, and Victoria Boden.

All have variations on New York accents in a briskly moving first act full of fun, played out on a stage of container crates, New York skylines, zoo cages and foliage, with a lively, often humorous script by Kevin del Aguila.

York Press:

Penguin patrol: puppets and puppeteers keep an eye out in Madagascar The Musical

SkiYork composer John Barry’s Born Free had introduced the show, but for all the perkiness of the subsequent tunes and playful lyrics by George Noriega and Joel Someillan, they lack memorable hooks.

This continues in the second act, where the well-known novelty hit Move It, Move It stands out from the crowd. By now, Alex, Marty and co have ended up in sunny Madagascar, home to the ring-tailed lemur and ruled by one King Julien.

Played with glee by the tour’s resident director, Jo Parsons, King Julien pretty much rules the stage too in a delightful comic turn, topped off by leading all the Move it, Move It moves.

Matt Terry’s sweet soul voice soars pleasingly, with its winning high register; the puppet penguins keep popping up amusingly, and although Terry tops the billing, Murray-Straughan’s Marty is the scene stealer, like Eddie Murphy’s Donkey in the Shrek movies.

Look out for the quirky cameo by zoo meat that can talk, all part of the gently bonkers joy to be had here.