MADAGASCAR THE MUSICAL | London, New Wimbledon Theatre

Things really reach a high point in the second half, where tiny King Julien (Jo Parsons), king of the lemurs, suddenly launches into a growling, party-house cover of Reel 2 Real’s 1993 “I Like to Move It”, which whips all the other animals and the audience into a wild frenzy. Fortunately, there is a brief reprise of this in the encore, where the audience is invited to dance along.

No other characters can hope to match up to King Julien’s charisma and unabashed silliness, but the mischievous, secret agent penguins are of course a clear hit with the adults as well as the children. Even in the more pedestrian moments, whizzy choreography (Fabian Aloise) maintains a sense of high-energy fun.

The new songs (George Noriega, Joel Someillan) are fine, but nowhere near the quality of the Tony-nominated songs in DreamWorks’ other mega-franchise stage musical, Shrek The Musical. The Musicians’ Union may be dismayed to see a DreamWorks branded show using no live musicians, but only a recorded soundtrack played through the PA system.

There is not much in the show for parents, but young fans of the 2005 movie will no doubt be delighted to see their favourite characters brought to life on stage. 2016 X-Factor winner Matt Terry brings a brilliant pop tenor to Alex, the pampered lion of Central Park Zoo, though lacks acting stagecraft. It’s the silly season, and this fun-packed, colourful kids show might be just the ticket.

Madagascar The Musical parties at Wimbledon until 28 July 2018 before going on tour.

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