At the beginning of the show an announcement went out saying that the lead of Alex the Lion will not be played by The X Factor winner Matt Terry and his understudy Brandon Gale would take his place. I couldn’t help but think that the kids weren’t really there for Matt Terry and weren’t drawn in by the celebrity casting.
I would have liked to have seen how Matt Terry faired in the role but the understudy quickly found his feet… or should I say paws. Brandon Gale was visibly nervous for the first few scenes but quickly became comfortable in his starring role and made a good Alex.
Accompanying him are Jamie Lee-Morgan as hypochondriac Melman, Timmika Ramsay as sassy Gloria and Antoine Murray-Straughan who was a brilliant Marty. As he stares out of the zoo gates dreaming of the wild, Marty’s character is full of get up and go and Antoine plays him perfectly.
These four actors worked so hard throughout, barely leaving the stage for the duration of the 90 minute show. However… they may have been slightly outshone by the one and only King Julian. He is the definition of a ‘show stealer’ as he shuffles and struts around on his knees to the highlight song of the evening ‘Move It’.
Other songs weren’t quite as strong and some of the rapping was lost on me, so I can only imagine how much (or how little) the six year old next to me picked up.
As well as the new songs the Selladoor Family have added in some extra jokes and lines which fitted nicely with the films preset tone. Jokes and songs about singing steaks and rectal thermometers worked rather well. This is something tricky to do, especially with such well loved films so I commend the team on this.
The audience was younger than I expected with most kids ranging 6 – 10. There were a portion that had come for the nostalgia and had clearly been big fans of the film when it came out in 2005. I think, emphasis on ‘think’, that the show was aimed at slightly older children, as some of the humour was lost of some of the younger audience members.
It’s nights like these I think of myself lucky to be short as I can sit amongst the children not looking too out of place as my 5 ft 3 self. It was my poor 6 ft and several inches friend that I felt sorry for, sticking out like a sore thumb and blocking the seven year olds view behind him. I couldn’t help but laugh when we all were invited to stand up at the end of the show and he was confined to trying to “Move it, Move it” from a crouching position.
I wouldn’t say this production exploded off the stage but it kept an audience of all ages entertained for close to two hours with it’s consistent high energy and hilarity. Not something easily achieved.