The vibrant and energetic cast of Madagascar: A Musical Adventure: (clockwise from top right) Nelsito Gomez as Marty the Zebra, Sarah Facuri as Gloria the Hippo, Markus Mann as Alex the Lion, Altair Alonso as Melman the Giraffe and George Schulze as King Julien
A treat for the whole family
Leah C. Salterio (The Philippine Star) - August 8, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — It’s rather unthinkable and ironic for a fierce lion, a smart, female hippopotamus, a handsome zebra and a skittish giraffe to be together. To point the obvious, they are considered wild animals and are most unlikely to come together.

However, in the 2005 animated film, Madagascar, Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, Marty the Zebra and Melman the Giraffe are friends in fabulous captivity at the Central Park Zoo. Despite being constantly applauded and rewarded with cheers by an adoring public, they were bored with their lives of performing daily for visitors. Hence, they escaped and ended up in far-away Madagascar.

The hit animated film was recently made into Madagascar: A Musical Adventure, that vibrantly translates onstage the hilarious plot of the story about how four friends from the zoo get to explore the wild.

With book by Kevin Del Aguila and original music and lyrics by George Noriega and Joel Someillan, the musical presented a much-better and appreciated story about the adventures and misadventures of the four friends.

When Marty celebrated his 10th birthday and made a wish before blowing his birthday cake, he made a secret desire to get out of the zoo and explore the wild. He was thrilled no end when he and his friends ended up at Madagascar in far-away East Africa.

Nelsito Gomez as Marty, was really handsome in his black and white Mohawk mane, dancing with his dark shades on and bragging about his much-vaunted gene was “Gene Kelly!”

Markus Mann was Alex, the king of the New York jungle and the leader of the group. This was only Markus’ second stage production. Just recently, he was also seen singing and dancing onstage as part of The Drifters group in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. In Madagascar: A Musical Adventure, Markus got the lead and he was a delight to watch as Alex the Lion.

Sarah Facuri was the sexy Gloria, the Hippo, the only female character in the lead roles. Altair Alonso (yes, the son of theater stalwarts Chinggoy Alonso and Veda Banez, as well as the younger brother of theater, film and TV actor Ralion) played Melman, the “hypo-congiraffe,” as Gloria liked to call him.

George Schulze entered the stage half-way into the story as lemur, King Julien, when the four friends landed not in “San Diego,” as what they initially surmised, but Madagascar. Yet, King Julien managed to thrill the audience with his never-ending, humorous treats. His accent was also funny. The way he talked was being constantly mimicked by children in the audience.

Of course, he got to render the well-remembered, upbeat and butt-shaking ditty, I Like To Move It, performed midway, when King Julien sauntered onstage. The number was simply infectious and mesmerizing. Yet, there were also touching and poignant songs, like Alex’s and Marty’s Best Friends or Living in Paradise and Together Forever, both by the company.

The scene-stealing penguins that moved in puppets, doubled the humor in this musical, which added more new songs — a potent mix of upbeat ditties, danceable tunes and hip melodies for the audience to enjoy. The exuberant energy of the characters onstage was really infectious. Young and old alike off stage sang and laughed.

Though this production is faithful to the story of the first film, the live rendition, the colorful costumes, the energetic performance of the cast and the kid-friendly songs clearly eclipsed the screen version.

Madagascar: A Musical Adventure is undoubtedly a treat not just for the young viewers, but for the entire family. The show is the maiden offering of Atlantis Imaginarium Young Theater and runs until Aug. 18 at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater at the BGC Arts Center.

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