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Out of Town

Move It, Move It to Madagascar

Move It, Move It to Madagascar

Liam Quealy, Ron King Photo by Justin Barbin 

The Marriott Lincolnshire is at it again. This time bringing fervent and furious joy to the stage with their latest, Madagascar: A Musical Adventure, now shaking and shimming center stage. Adapted and consolidated from the hit 2005 Dreamworks animated feature film of the same name, Madagascar centers around four unlikely animal friends and their misadventures as they escape the Lincoln Park Zoo in search of greener pastures. More compact then the original film, Director Johanna McKenzie Miller’s vision kept the action moving and the audience fully engaged. 

Liam Quealy, Ron King Photo by Justin Barbin 

The story centered around Marty the zebra (the rambunctious Ron King) and his best friend Alex the lion (perennial Lincolnshire talent, Liam Quealy) the self-appointed “King of New York City” as they prepared to celebrate Marty’s 10th birthday. Joined by Gloria the hippopotamus (Rashada Dawan) and Melman the hypochondriac giraffe (the always engaging Steven Stafford) this curious quartet soon escaped the creature comforts of the zoon in search of new escapades. Quickly captured and sedated, these animals were then sent packing on a ship to a Kenyan wildlife preserve. 

Photo by Justin Barbin 

At the same time, a widely popular foursome of penguins, Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private (Allison Pill, Emily Agy, Alejandro Fonseca and Laura Savage, respectively) were also trying to escape the zoo, intent on making it “home” to Antarctica. When both quartets paths cross, hilarity ensues. By the time we get to the African Lemur King Julien XIII (Yando Lopez) singing I Like to Move It the cast has the audience completely riveted and totally under their collective spell. Who cares about the important life lesson underlying the entire performance? Yes, there are consequences to impulsive actions, but by that point we just want to Move It, Move It to the infectious jungle pop beat.

Photo by Justin Barbin 

Two of my personal favorite Windy City character actors round out the cast playing a half dozen supporting roles, including zoo keeper, reporter and various animals of the jungle, but just know when Landree Fleming and Garratt Lutz take the stage, all eyes are on these skillful scene stealers. Speaking of stealing scenes and pulling focus, Jesus Perez’s costumes are a star all on their own. From Gloria the hippo’s molded grey gown to Melman’s meticulously spotted suit, this costume budget was stretched further than any 7th inning I am familiar with. Added to that, Sarah E. Ross’ puppet design, matching ingenuity with creativity, had heartwarming results. The colorful results appeal to every kid and kid at heart in attendance. This is a center in the round stage, so Rachel Rauschner set pieces were small yet impactful. Finally, partnering Sam Groisser’s musical direction with Ericka Mac’s lively choreography was a real toe-tapping and ear/eye popping treat.

Photo by Justin Barbin 

The competition for the family holiday entertainment dollar this year is fierce. If you are looking for an outing free of candy canes and sugar plums, Madagascar: A Musical Adventure is a sure-fire hit. A brisk 60-minute production well worth your time, its time to move it, move it out to the Lincolnshire Marriott Theatre. No Lie-n, it’s a treat!

Photo by Justin Barbin 

Madagascar: A Musical Adventure is now playing at Marriot Theatre Lincolnshire through December 29, 2019

Ron King, Steven Stafford, Rashada Dawan, Liam Quealy Photo by Justin Barbin 

Out of Town

Stephen S. Best is currently a freelance writer for the Times Square Chronicles, covering the performing arts scene in the greater Chicagoland area. He has been a theater aficionado for years, attending his first live production, Annie, at the tender age of six. After graduating from Purdue University, Stephen honed his skills attending live theater, concerts and art installations in New York and Chicago. Stephen's keen eye and thorough appreciation for both theater patrons' time and entertainment dollar makes him a valuable asset and his recommendations key. Stephen currently lives in downtown Chicago.

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