CHILDREN'S theatre producer David Wood told me recently how big theatrical companies are unlikely to take any creative risks at the moment.
And to get financial backing you need a title that audiences are going to instantly recognise.
Madagascar Live! is a case in point. Madagascar is a blockbusting film trilogy from Dreamworks so should be safe as houses when it comes to investing in the stage version.
The only problem is that the dream of safety has created a show which, rather than being wild and wacky, is slightly anodyne.
This Stage Entertainment Touring Production is made up of 17 songs strung together with a script comprising of the best lines from the film, which should work fine.
But without the rest of the script even the really funny one-liners lose their humour so the jokes, including one half-hearted gag about the NHS aimed at a British audience, are sparse.
Madagascar Live! brings to life Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria and the penguins in a breathless, showy spectacle which sadly doesn’t really do justice to the movie.
My daughter compared it scene by scene to the film and was fully expecting Marty to appear on the beach surfing on dolphins but was disappointed at the end when it didn’t deliver.
However, she and I were wowed by the visual impact of the production. The different settings are probably the triumph and the stage does look spectacular with its crudely colour-saturated ever-changing scenery.
Ultimately this simplified stage version of Madagascar is a decent introduction to musicals for children. And maybe they’ll be up for something more creative next time.