THE SHOW OPENS TONIGHT AT THE PARAMOUNT
IF YOU’RE after some cracka-lackin fun, you cannot miss the latest singing and dancing spectacular from Echuca-Moama Theatre Company.
Madagascar Jnr - A Musical Adventure is exactly that — a wild adventure full of show-stopping tunes, clever choreography, colourful backdrops and projections and, most importantly, some crack-a-lackin jokes that will delight young and old.
On Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of watching the final dress rehearsal before the cast of 45 youngsters take to the stage tonight for opening night.
From the first big number — It’s Showtime — to the get-up-and dance ending, the fast-paced show is a joy to watch as Alex the lion ( Dennis Carter), Marty the zebra (Indiah Gilmore), Melman the giraffe (Ruby Oman), Gloria the hippo (Ella Horne) and the hilarious, plotting penguins escape from New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves in the madcap world of King Julien’s (Oluchi Ekeanyanwu) Madagascar.
The young actors, who range in age from eight to 17, show exceptional talent.
Seventeen-year-old Dennis dominates as the headstrong, self absorbed but eventually heroic Alex and is one to watch in future adult performances.
Indiah is no stranger to the stage and it shows, as she exudes tons of confidence and stage presence. And what the tiny 13-year-old lacks in size and stature, she makes up for with a big voice and quick wit of the everoptimistic Marty.
When it comes to a strong and soulful voice, you cannot go past Ella, 17, who shines as the sassy Gloria. She certainly puts the ‘hip’ in hippo.
Thirteen-year-old Ruby has always been a favourite of mine — from when she was a cute little nine-year-old in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang — and she doesn’t disappoint as the awkward, hypochondriac Melman.
And how she managed not to fall over in those terrifyingly high platform boots, I’ll never know.
It’s no surprise King Julien is my favourite character (I’m a huge Sacha Baron Cohen fan) and thankfully Oluchi rocked it. At only 11, this girl has some serious talent, with the perfect accent to match, and busts out some pretty cool booty shaking dance moves along the way.
Ethan O’Brien is hilarious as King Julien’s long-suffering sidekick Maurice, and you can’t get any cuter than Georgia Cadd as bug-eyed mouse lemur Mort. Yet, her powerful scream certainly proves the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
And Madagascar isn’t complete without the crazy antics of the ‘cute and cuddly’ penguins, who almost steal the show with their comedic waddling and timing. A warning though — they may have you feeling a little sea sick at one point so maybe pack the Travel Calm.
The ensemble is the backbone of any show and this one isn’t any different — combining to create a fun and vibrant performance that will have you leave feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
Director Darcy Elliott is to be commended for putting this show together in such a way that he makes everyone’s talents shine. Getting two children to do what you want is no easy feat — let alone 45 of them — yet Darcy seems to have the knack.
The self-confessed ‘‘big kid’’ gets on their level and makes learning fun, which shines through in each and every performer. And it’s certainly been good practise for him when he welcomes his own bundle of joy next year.
Kudos must also go to all the behind-the-scenes people — music director, set designers, choreographers, hairdressers and make-up team — who work tirelessly to produce a spectacular show full of life and colour.
With seven shows held at the Paramount over the next two weekends, get in quick to book your tickets or you’ll be on the slow boat to China. In the words of King Julien, ‘Don’t be a bunch of pansies!’
Tickets are available at the Paramount.