Sunday, July 30, 2017

Review of Madagascar at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Madagascar. It was based on the Dreamworks Animation movie and the book was Kevin Del Aguila. The music and lyrics were by George Noriega and Joel Someillan It was directed and choreographed by Rachel Rockwell. The music director was Jermaine Hill. It was about a group of animals who escape from the Central Park Zoo: Alex (Jordan Brown), a lion, Marty (Gilbert Domally), a zebra, Gloria (Lisa Estridge), a hippo, and Melman (Stephen Schellhardt), a giraffe. Then they get sent on a boat for running away, and there is a shipwreck--because a bunch of spy penguins (Tony Carter, Leah Morrow, Erica Stephan, and Adrienne Storrs) have crashed the ship--and they wash ashore in Madagascar. Then they meet a tribe of lemurs (Aaron Holland, Ron King, Hannah Rose Nardone, Holly Stauder, and Stephan) who rule half the island; the other half is ruled by the Fossa (Ciera Dawn, King, and Garrett Lutz) who all they want to do is eat some delicious lemur. It is about friendship, self-control, and being wild. I thought this show was a lot of fun. It was a cool recreation of the movies I watched as a young child; it was very nostalgic for me, at least the height of nostalgia for someone who is almost thirteen. I also went with a younger child, and it was a lot of fun to see how much she enjoyed the story.

At the beginning of the show, when they are still in the zoo, the animals are getting ready for the field trip kids to arrive so they can show off their fabulousness. They were acting like they were going to be in a big rock show and the kids were acting like the animals were celebrities, so that was pretty funny and I think that was a great way to kick off the show. A little later, Marty sang a song, "Wild and Free," about how he wanted to go out into the wild and that that was where he belonged. He sang this on his 13th birthday, when he was having his midlife crisis, which is hilarious because it seemed like a combination of adolescence and a midlife zebra crisis. I thought there were really nice vocals for this song and the performer made it a pretty moving song, even while wearing a zebra costume (costumes by Jesus Perez). I've never seen that before. I also think "I Like to Move It," led by King Julien (Holland), is definitely a very catchy song. I thought it was a fun performances because they had great lemur puppets (designed by Sarah Ross) that really resembled the characters. It was a lot of fun to get up at the end and see a lot of kids dancing along.

My favorite character in the movie was Gloria, so it was really fun to see her portrayed live on stage. The costume was so fabulous--I've never seen a more dazzling belly button! I wish she had gotten her own song, because you could tell she had a great voice. I actually didn't like the penguins in the movie much, but I really liked them here. I liked the whole secret agent schtick that they were doing, and I liked how you could see the penguins' emotions through the actors. I think it was a good idea to use puppets for the penguins and lemurs, but it was good they didn't hide the actors' faces because then you still got to see the nuances of their performances, which I think was a nice touch.

Even though this show is a lot of fun, it had some questionable things about it. It feels like this show is saying that animals are better off in zoos, which is something a lot of people don't agree with. So you should be prepared to talk to your kids about that after the show. I feel like Madagascar was a movie I watched because everyone was watching it, and at the time, when I was four or five, I didn't take in the message of the story. But now that I do, I'm troubled by a few things, like how it seems to be saying animals are better off in a zoo, and how the moral "don't eat your friends" is pretty obvious, and how tragic the love story will be between a giraffe and a hippo because they are two different species. It is also troubling that carnivores are shamed for just going with the circle of life. Steak is basically the same thing as eating your friends, if your friends are animals, so it is not really that much better. Alex's steaks might be somebody else's friend, but you can't really make a Lion a vegetarian, though at the end it seems like he might become a pescatarian.

People who would like this show are people who like and ballad-singing zebras, potentially pescatarian lions, and dazzling belly buttons. I think there are a lot of kids who would really like this show and teenagers who will find it nostalgic. It had fun costumes and puppets, and a lot of the performers were really great.

Photos: Liz Lauren

No comments: