“I Like To Move It” is a memorable song for many young adults today from their childhood. As children, watching formally captive animals in zoos now a part of nature captured our attention. Now, “Madagascar” can recapture audiences’ attention in musical form. “Madagascar the Musical” is coming to Lincoln this weekend at the Lied Center for Performing Arts on April 15.
Created by Eric Darnell in 2005, “Madagascar” follows a group of animals who have spent their entire lives in a New York zoo and end up in the jungles of Madagascar. Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo must adjust to living in the wild.
Since the original release, there have been numerous spinoffs of the original movie and the beloved characters. One of these new projects from DreamWorks is this musical.
“As a person that was a huge fan of the movie, this musical stays really loyal to the movie that we all know and love. There’s so many jokes and songs and moments that are pulled from the movie,” Gary Paul Bowman, who plays Alex, said. “I think anyone that loves the movie is destined to enjoy the musical.”
Preparing for this musical required the performers to do rigorous workouts as well as practice dancing in the animal costumes. In addition, this musical has added features, like puppetry, to make the characters more realistic and more interactive with the rest of the cast.
Maria Norris, who plays Gloria, said that this show has been interesting in the fact that puppetry is a major part of the production.
“Our ensemble does a lot of the intricate puppetry work. For me, Gloria interacts with Melman a lot, so it was interesting to get used to looking at the puppet instead of James Silverstein, who plays Melman,” Norris said. “Now that we have put it all together, they really do feel like part of the cast. These puppets are so alive and so animated and fun to watch.”
This musical brings the adored animals from the big screen to the main stage. While this show tends to be targeted at younger audiences, “Madagascar” brings out people of all ages. Sterling McClary, who plays Marty, said that this musical is as much for adults as it is for kids.
“Doing musicals like this is so nostalgic because we know the story. The children can relate to the characters they see and the songs they know. For adults, they can connect with those real life stories we’re telling right now,” McClary said. “For Marty, he wants to be somewhere else that he hasn’t been in his life because he knows there’s more to life than where he lives. We can all relate to that.”
With this musical being originally postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and later rescheduled, there has been a lot of excitement for this show. Getting the word out about “Madagascar” and other shows that are occurring at the Lied Center continues to be top priority.
Lauren Durban, the communications manager for the Lied Center, said communicating that shows are happening at the Lied Center is the most important step to ensure people are aware.
“The goal is to make sure as many people as possible know about it. People who love the movie, families, all the possible audiences that we think would enjoy it, we reach out in as many ways as possible and make sure people know that this show is going to be in town,” Durban said.
This musical’s national tour will go on for four months, with Lincoln being one of the earliest stops. Each of the performers have goals and hopes for what this musical will bring them in the future. James Silverstein, who plays Melman, said he hopes this musical inspires kids to potentially find a love for theater and performing.
“I personally wasn’t exposed to theater at a young age and knowing that this production is geared towards children, even if there’s one kid along the way that I can inspire, that’s what keeps me doing this job,” Silverstein said. “How special would that be to be a part of someone’s answer one day of how they got into theater?”
There is still time to claim tickets for the show that is set for two performances on April 15 — one at 3:00 p.m. and another show at 7:30 p.m. The two performances will run about an hour and a half each. Durban said that it is a great distraction from daily stressful life.
“It’s one of those shows that's just fun. And we hope lots of people will come to do that,” Durban said. “There’s a lot of serious stuff in the world right now, so this is one of those kinds of escape shows that we love to bring.”