THE SHOW OPENS TONIGHT AT THE PARAMOUNT

The Riverine Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By Ivy Jensen

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.

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