Bringing the Zoo to life with Madagascar – The Musical

Thursday 15 April 2021

We had a chat with Madagascar - The Musical promoter and producer Layton Lillas about the show which is touring Aotearoa starting this month!

The beloved DreamWorks film, Madagascar, has been turned into a musical which follows the usual gang of Alex the lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the giraffe, and Gloria the hippo, as they escape from New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves in Madagascar. 

Does Madagascar – The Musical follow a similar storyline to the movie? 
Layton Lillas: Madagascar – The Musical follows to the letter the original DreamWorks movie which is now 15 years old would you believe. It has become a timeless classic which is as popular with kids now as it was back then. It has been turned into a musical by virtue of the face there have been songs written for various scenes which give the whole story a real kick in the pants. 

Do you think the show being a musical adds to the production?
LL: The show has never been to New Zealand but has been touring around the US, the UK, and Europe for the better part of five years. Like a lot of animated movies such as Frozen, The Lion King and even classics like Aladdin and Mary Poppins, Madagascar lends itself to be an awesome live stage show and that’s what’s been created. DreamWorks endorse the production which means quality must be 10/10 and this show definitely is! 

How much effort is everyone putting into the show to make sure it goes ahead in a ‘Covid’ world?
LL: Well for a start we’re delighted to have a 100% kiwi cast coming from all parts of the country. The talent we have in this country is outstanding! So no issues with the border and quarantining or postponing if alert levels change, but we have four 40 foot shipping containers of the international set, costumes and props which means this is a serious, serious operation and the ‘machine’ is always going to be difficult to stop on a dime. But we like many others in the entertainment industry are committed to making events happen, it’s what we do, and so far ticket sales reflect that people want to come out to enjoy live theatre. 

How many people on stage and behind the scenes are a part of this production? 
LL: We travel with 10 on stage and 10 crew but we rely heavily on local crew in each city to make the whole thing work. No one is really travelling all over the world at this point in time but we are the rights-holders for New Zealand and Australia so we’ll look forward to crossing the Tasman once the ‘bubble’ is up and going.

Is there a particular scene or act in the show that you are excited for people to see and why? 
LL: There is an amazing scene when the four main characters are in these shipping containers on the way to Madagascar and the level of detail that has gone in to replicating the movie for our production is just outstanding. 

How long has Madagascar – The Musical been running as a production worldwide, and what is about the show that makes it so popular with audiences?
LL: Five years it’s been going and simply put the movie has turned into a timeless classic that means people of all ages get something out of seeing the story in a live setting. From mum’s and dad’s, to their kids, to teenagers who used to watch the movie when they were younger, everyone goes put fizzing. The other thing is we’ve gone to great lengths to give everyone huge bang for buck. Make no mistake this is a West End quality production and we’re keeping it priced between $20-$70 so it should be accessible to everyone we hope. 

See Madagascar – The Musical!
23 April - 25 April 2021
Trustpower Arena, Tauranga

Words: Caitlin Houghton
Image: Supplied