The cast of the New Zealand touring production of Madagascar The Musical are set to go, launching their April school holiday tour at Hamilton's Clarence Street Theatre on Friday night.
The musical is based on the 2005 Dreamworks hit movie Madagascar and has been touring Asia and Europe for the past four years. This is the first time it has been staged in New Zealand.
The show follows a group of friends; Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the Hippo and a posse of sneaky penguins, as they escape from their home in New York's Central Park Zoo. Along the way they find themselves on an unexpected journey to 'the madcap world' of King Julien's Madagascar.
New Zealand promoter Layton Lillas (Showcase Entertainment) is excited to bring Madagascar The Musical to audiences here and says, "It's a full international show that will be so much fun - we think it will blow you away."
With Covid-19 affecting performances overseas, Lillas was able to secure the international set, puppets, costumes, and props for the tour and says the production is "full of West End design creativity and expertise".
Covid restrictions also created an opportunity for the producers to secure an all-local New Zealand cast and crew for the show.
Lillas says "typically there would be an all UK cast and crew on a big touring show like this so local performers would not get opportunities" but he is thrilled to tap into "the talent in New Zealand towns".
Hamilton local Nick Wilkinson was his first call to direct the show after his earlier success with a touring production of The Cat in The Hat in 2018.
They have also cast a number of Waikato locals including Falstaff Dowling-Mitchell as Melman the Giraffe.
"The 10 actors we have cast are unbelievable," Lillas says, and acknowledges groups like Hamilton Operatic Society as being "a real standout" for high quality local productions and as a gateway to professional theatre.
The producers have worked hard to keep the ticket prices reasonable and have a range of time slots for matinees and evening performances. Lillas emphasises that they want as many people to be able to see the show as possible.
He says: "It's a show that's great for kids and families, but it's also great for those 'bigger kids' who will remember the movie from their childhoods."
• Madagascar The Musical opens Friday, April 16 in Hamilton and runs until Tuesday, April 20 before heading to Tauranga, Palmerston North and Napier. Tickets: Ticketek