What is life like for animals in the zoo? Do they ever dream of escape?.

That's what a bunch of zany cartoon creatures do in Hamilton Musikmakers production of the musical adventure Madagascar Jr.

The story starts in New York's Central Park Zoo where a very bored zebra called Marty, aided and abetted by a bunch of suspicious penguins, talks his fellow inmates to legging-it into the wide world.

This unlikely bunch commandeer a ship and steer it to an exotic African island of Madagascar. There they meet King Julien and his arboreal bunch of hangers-on.

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Then, with no nice zoo keepers around at feeding time, the adventure comes to an end when hunger gets the better of Alex who hankers longingly for the protein content of some of his fellow conspirators.

Cast members in costume (from left) Lamoni Muliaumusealii (Marty), River Park (Skipper), Chloe Smith (Gloria), Jack Turner (Melman) Memphis Ward (Alex) Jessica Eyeington (King Julien).
Cast members in costume (from left) Lamoni Muliaumusealii (Marty), River Park (Skipper), Chloe Smith (Gloria), Jack Turner (Melman) Memphis Ward (Alex) Jessica Eyeington (King Julien).

Based on the 2005 DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar Jr has proven to be internationally popular with junior and young adult audiences.

Musikmakers' production is no exception, with credit to choreographer Rebekah Robertson-Yells, musical director Coryn Knapper and director Toni Garson - with special mention of wardrobe Lesley Wilson for a massive job in costuming.

In a cast full of young and rising talent, outstanding performances came from Memphis Ward as Alex the Lion, Lamoni Muliaumusealii as Marty the Zebra and Jessica Eyeington as lemur King Julien.

Packed with dance routines and foot-thumping tunes Madagascar Jr is an uncomplicated and breezy musical adventure for the school holiday season.

Musikmakers' Madagascar Jr is tailored to the family audience and is best for children four and over. The production is 1 hour 20 minutes including an interval.

Madagascar Jr can be seen at the Riverlea Theatre, Riverlea Rd, Thursday January 16, 11am and 2pm, Friday January 17, 2pm and 7pm, Sat 2pm and 7pm. Tickets iTicket. Or call the theatre 07 856 5450.

- Geoff Lewis

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