There’s always a trade-off when you go to an arena show.
You might lose the warmth and intimacy of a theatre, a real sense of connection with the characters on stage, total absorption in the plot line.
But what you can gain is a bigger spectacle, a buzzier atmosphere and the thrill of hundreds of people on their feet and grooving to ‘I Like to Move it Move it’ as happened at the end of Madagascar Live last night.
This colourful show swept into Wembley Arena for the weekend, bringing the loveable animated heroes Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, Melman the Giraffe and Marty the Zebra faithfully to life.
The story’s loosely based on the original Madagascar movie, with a few extra gags and some audience interaction thrown in.
On a quest to get in touch with his inner wild side, Marty the Zebra escapes the Manhattan zoo, (following those pesky Penguins) and leads his friends on an unforgettable journey across the ocean.
I’ll state upfront that I didn’t enjoy this performance half as much as Shrek the Musical, another Dreamworks adaptation still enchanting the West End. I’m more of a theatre girl and found my attention wandering at times.
However, there was always plenty to catch your eye thanks to the lively cast and the vivid set that brought a burst of tropical heat to north London.
The singing was top-notch, the songs crackled along, the penguins always got a giggle and King Julien was enjoyably camp.
And it’s a credit to how popular these characters (and that song) are that everyone from toddlers to pensioners got into the party spirit by the end.
For me, Madagascar Live lacked soul but had a big heart that captured the affection of the crowd and had us wiggling our bums all the way home.
Madagascar Live is at Wembley Arena (until Mar 3) and on tour until Mar 10