Opera House, Wellington

04/08/2021 - 15/08/2021

Production Details

Welcome to the jungle: in Madagascar, it’s fun and games for the whole family! 

Join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hip Hippo and, of course, those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto stage in the musical adventure of a lifetime.  

Based on the smash DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar – The Musical follows all of your favourite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.

This brand new musical from DreamWorks, featuring a star studded Kiwi cast will leave audiences with no choice but to ‘move it, move it’.


New Zealand’s own boy band star Andrew Papas has been signed to play the “mane man” Alex the lion in GMG Productions New Zealand tour of Madagascar – the Musical, breaking out of the zoo and on to a stage near you this July & August!

Andrew was part of the record-breaking pop band Titanium who produced two gold-selling albums, two sold-out nationwide tours, opened for Mariah Carey, Jason Derulo, Hot Chelle Rae, and Cher Lloyd; and performed the US national anthem in Madison Square Garden for the game between New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.

Away from the band, Andrew achieved four top 20 singles and success on stage in Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Disco Inferno, High School Musical and Grease. He has also hosted Sticky TV as a core presenter and co-hosted the ZM Chart show.

As Alex the lion, he will become the main attraction at the Central Park Zoo and undoubtedly “The King of New York City”. This fun-loving fella whose devotion to steak is matched only by his devotion to his friends.

He and Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hip hip hippo have spent their whole lives in blissful captivity before an admiring public without a care in the world. Or so they thought.

Not content to leave well enough alone, Marty lets his curiosity get the better of him and makes his daring escape – with the help of some plotting penguins – to explore the world.

Just like the movie, Madagascar – the Musical is ferociously fun and follows all your favourite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar. Filled with outlandish characters, adventure galore and a catchy upbeat score – you’ll have no choice but to “Move It, Move It!”

This fun-filled family musical. adapted from the critically acclaimed smash-hit DreamWorks animated motion movie, features all the bells and whistles of the international touring production including a lavish set, world-class puppets and colourful costumes.

Andrew will be joined on stage by a stellar all-Kiwi cast including R&B singer-songwriter and actress Kristin Paulse (We Will Rock You, Bring It On, Hairspray, Rent, and The Color Purple) as the sassy hippo Gloria; Ben Freeth (Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia! and Wicked) as the hypochondriac giraffe Melman and LeRoi Kippen (Hairspray, Rent, Grease, Chicago and The Producers) as Alex’s best friend Marty the zebra.

Joining the Zoosters in their fun filled-adventure are Jonathan Martin (Jersey Boys; One Man Two Guvnors, La Cage Aux Folles, Avenue Q, Twelfth Night, Into The Woods, The Rocky Horror Show) as party boy lemur King Julien; R&B, dance and theatre artist Ezra Williams (Romeo & Juliet, Fame, People like Us); Lucy Sutcliffe (Cinderella, 42nd Street, Fiddler on the Roof, Sister Act); Geena Hutton (Jersey Boys, Mary Poppins, We Will Rock You, Annie, Grease); Cole Johnston (Cats, Yesterday); Jack Shatford (Cinderella, Rock of Ages, Strictly Ballroom The Musical); Caleb Jago-Ward (The Voice Australia, The Ten Tenors, We Will Rock You, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Hairspray) and George Hiku (Shrek, Beauty and the Beast and West Side Story).

Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Aotea Centre
Dates: Thursday, 8 July – Sunday, 18 July
Times: Tuesday – Thursdays 6.30pm; Fridays 7pm; Saturdays 10am, 2pm & 7pm; Sundays 1pm & 5pm. Special matinee performance at 2pm, Wednesday, 14 July.

Opera House
Dates: Wednesday 4 August – Sunday, 15 August
Times: Tuesday – Thursdays 6.30pm; Fridays 7pm;
Saturdays 10am, 2pm & 7pm; Sundays 1pm & 5pm
Additional matinee at 2pm Wednesday, 11 August
Book at TicketMaster

Isaac Theatre Royal
Dates: Wednesday, 18 August – Sunday, 22 August
Times: Wednesday 6pm; Thursday 2pm & 6pm; Friday 6pm; Saturday 10.30am, 2pm & 6pm; Sunday 1pm & 5pm.
Book at Ticketek

Full cast list: 
ALEX – Andrew Papas
MARTY – LeRoi Dale Kippen
GLORIA – Kristin Paulse
MELMAN – Ben Freeth
KING JULIEN/ZEKE – Jonathan Martin
LARS LEMUR/ZELDA – Jack Shatford
CANDY /LYNN LEMUR – Lucy Sutcliffe
KOWALSKI – Ezra Williams
SWING – Caleb Jago-Ward
SWING – George Hiku 

Theatre , Musical , Family ,

A laughter filled time of theatrical fun

Review by Jo Hodgson 07th Aug 2021

On the opening downbeat, the audience erupts into cheers, they are right there ready and waiting to MOVE IT at this theatrical spectacle of Madagascar The Musical.

The popular DreamWorks movie has been transformed for the stage by GMG productions and Selladoor Worldwide with original music and lyrics by George Noriega and Joel Someillan.

It’s so fantastic that this International touring production has an all New Zealand cast and resident creative team led by Director Nick Purdie, with Choreographer Liesl Eksteen, Musical director Mark Bradley and Puppet director Paul Lewis.

Visually it’s very true to the animated version – which for me isn’t my favourite of the animated family movies, but with the additional catchy story/character-building songs, it translates well to live theatre.

One would presume that the majority of the audience tonight, both young and older, know the story but just in case readers don’t, here is a quick rundown of this story of unlikely but strong friendships, the bid for freedom and the grass is (or isn’t) always greener in the wild.

Alex the Lion (Andrew Papas), Marty the Zebra (LeRoi Kippen), Melman the Giraffe (Ben Freeth) and Gloria the Hippo (Kristin Paulse) all live at Central Park Zoo NYC.

Marty is turning 10 and just isn’t feeling it anymore – maybe a Zebra mid-life crisis? – and wants to break free of the bars and the tedium of the same old routine. Alex, his bestie, on the other hand loves the ‘showtime’, the regular meals and can’t understand why anyone would leave this paradise.

In short, Marty does break free and this sets off a domino effect of chaos as they all get caught, crated and sent to Africa. While on route, a band of rogue Penquins hijack the ship, up-ending the crates which are then washed up in Madagascar.

Here they meet the irrepressible party Ring tailed Lemur King Julian (Jono Martin) who hatches a plan to get these ‘New York Giants’ to help with the island’s predator. But the WILD has other ideas as it starts to play on their natural instincts problem and friendships are threatened.

The characterisations from all the performers are on point both vocally and physically. The dancing and puppetry is slick and the obvious talent on the stage shines. It never lets up and they must be fair melting in the padded costuming.  

The supporting ensemble have a huge job with the many roles from puppeteering penguins, and /or Lemur’s, human characters like Zoo keepers, and navigating the incredibly smooth set changes. They are a choreography in themselves.  

Highlights for me:

Ben Freeth’s puppeteering of Melman the hypochondriac Giraffe. Such a stunning costume/puppet and the depth of character he got through this cleverly crafted elongated length of fabric is fabulous.

All the singing is crisp and clear, particularly Andrew Papas as Alex. His pop/rock background serves him well in this role. I can imagine him playing Rum Tum Tugger (in Cats) with ease too!

The heartfelt duet ‘Best Friends’ between Alex and Marty is a lovely poignant moment amongst it all.

The Penguin puppetry and characterisation is spot on, especially Cole Johnston as Skipper.

The interpretation of the galloping steaks from the movie is cleverly realised in an old cinematic style soft shoe shuffle with dinner trolleys.

The favourite of the night has to be King Julian. Jono Martin has brilliant acting chops and knows how to hold a joke as he toys with the audience to eek out every laugh he can get without it tipping past the point of no return. His accent and interpretation is faultless and of course he wins over the crowd with the most popular song of the night – Move it!

Here are some thoughts from my ten year old helpers:

The lighting was amazing but the spotlights could be a little dimmer because they dazzled me.

The Music rocked. It was so loud. I liked how they had the sound effects too, especially the lion roar and how they got the audience to join in with the Move It! They were very charismatic.

They could hide amazing facts from the audience, that was really cool. You know, like with the crates, how did they get them (the characters) in there? That scene change was magical.

I really liked the King Julian actor, he was walking on his knees wasn’t he? And the fart joke! Was it supposed to go on for so long or was he keeping it going as long as the audience laughed? It was so funny, and I really, really, really liked his night time song – the best song I heard in my entire life.

The monkey was rude.

The giraffe costume is amazing. Alex’s singing is amazing. I loved Gloria’s riff’s and singing and how she had diva moments. Boom! It was amazing how Marty could dance so well in that costume with a big Zebra butt.

There were six layers of set and the way they changed (rotated) the set to be the different cages in the zoo was so cool.

They were all so committed.

So the kids agree, it’s a great night out for the family so I would say, move it, move it and get yourself along for a laughter filled time of theatrical fun – I think we all need some of that right now.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council