The Rose Theater has a cute show, the musical version of the Dreamworks animated 2005 movie Madagascar. In it, 15 lively performers take on 48 jolly roles whom director Kevin Ehrhart and choreographer Sue Gillespie Booton keep dancing and singing with plenty of charm.
This kid-aimed but adult-friendly, lightweight, colorful entertainment has a lot of classy costumes, inventive, albeit simple sets and performances that make it shine.
Brian Guehring, Kendra Bell and Anna Jordan stand out amid six other less-featured members of the ensemble as a goofy bunch of penguins, amusingly flapping and gyrating all over the place to Booton’s steps. And J. Isaiah Smith comes across with loads of personality in song and dance as Marty, the Zebra.
The plot follows the film’s. Penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo want out, plotting to escape to the climes of Antarctica. Four other confined residents go along for the trip, Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the Giraffe. En route they find themselves in Kenya before their ship lands on the island named above where a tribe of lemurs welcome them. The lemurs also ask for aid in defending themselves from predatory creatures, the fossa. Paralleling that interspecies danger, Alex is obsessed about having no meat for his diet and, seeing that his hunger threatens Marty, especially after being enticed by a chorus line of dancing steaks, goes into exile.
The singing and dancing dominate the action with the plot lines underlying rather than being taken too seriously. The book for this adaptation, by two-time Emmy Award winning writer of PBS’s Peg and The Cat, Kevin Del Aguila, has amusing elements such as lines which refer to the fact that the former zoo occupants are New Yorkers at heart.
Sherri Geerdes created the clever costumes which must have been a challenge to make for swift costume changes, given how many there are. The excellent sets were created by Bill Van Deest and Matthew Hamel, who, unfortunately, didn’t do enough to cover the quite visible upstage spotlights.
The agreeable if not very distinguished pop rock songs are from Grammy-winning George Noriega who’s made his name in Latino rhythms and Joel Somellian. They have often paired before for Nickelodeon and Sesame Street his live version of an animated movie has its own kind of animation and stays full of fun.
Madagascar-A Musical Adventure is underway through Oct. 22, The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St.. Fri. (10/13, 20) 7 p.m. Sat. (10/7) 5 pm (10/14, 10/21) 2 & 5 p.m. Sun (10/8) 2 p.m. (10/15, 10/22) 10 a.m. & 2 p.m. Tickets $20. http://www.rosetheater.org