As my eight-year-old companion points out, Madagascar The Musical is quite loosely based on the hit Dreamworks adventure-comedy movie.

It's some 14 years since the animation hit the big screen, but it doesn't appear to have dropped off the radar in that time as there's a strong turnout for the show at Darlington Hippodrome.

After being warned to turn off our phones by a monkey puppet, we're introduced to human-sized animals living in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

A supremely confident Alex the lion, played by Joseph Connor, revels in being a popular attraction at the zoo, but his friend, Matty the Zebra (Posi Morakinyo), dreams of a better life roaming in the wild and hatches an escape plan.

After a chase, Matty, Alex, Gloria the hippo (Hannah Victoria) and a hypochondriac puppet-headed giraffe named Melman (Connor Dyer) join puppet penguins Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private eventually become stranded on the paradise island of Madagascar and encounter the outlandish King Julien, a lemur played by Kieran Mortell.

While the show initially moves along at a canter, with splashes of humour and tight dance routines, it's not until King Julien makes his entrance that it really gets the audience moving. Even when the lines he has aren't inherently funny he's hilarious.

The songs are well delivered, but unfamiliar, to the young audience, so it really helped when the movie's best known tune, I Like To Move It, Move It was wheeled out.

Much of the show's success rests with the puppetry and the quality of costumes, which make the movie characters instantly recognisable on stage.

As the compact cast of ten take their bows we're told it was Joseph Connor's first show in the leading role of Alex, which came as a surprise given his self-assured performance.

Madagascar the Musical might not be the roaring success of the movie, but it made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening of family entertainment.

Madagascar the Musical will run at Darlington Hippodrome until October 13.