‘I’m excited to see the sights’ Karim Zeroual on upcoming North East performance

The presenter and Strictly star will be playing the role of King Julien in Madagascar The Musical.

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A musical theatre production of the Dreamworks film franchise Madagascar is heading to the Sunderland Empire, with television presenter and Strictly Come Dancing star Karim Zeroual in a lead role.

29-year-old Karim, who has presented on the likes of CBBC, will be taking on the iconic, hilarious role of King Julian in Madagascar The Musical.

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The plot follows the beloved animal characters, Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria as they escape from their home at New York’s Central Park Zoo, and find themselves on a journey to King Julien’s Madagascar.

We spoke to Karim about his brand-new theatre role, his dance experience as part of Strictly and his first time visiting Sunderland. 

“When the part came up, I was like ‘I need this role, this role is perfect for me’,” Karim explained. 

“I love the film, and I love Sacha Baron-Cohen,” Karim said, referring to the actor who plays King Julien in the film franchise. 

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“When I got the part, I was over the moon. It’s such a fun, eccentric and off the wall role to play.”

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When asked what the audience can expect from Madagascar The Musical, Karim said: “We put the film on stage, with all the lighting, the costumes, the music, it’s really incredible for everyone of all ages. You’re going to feel good.”

“You’ll definitely be singing along, especially to my song Move It, which I think everyone loves!”

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Speaking about his role as King Julien, Karim said: “My character has a chance to be quite weird and funny, and I’ve got a lot of amazing lines which will for sure get a laugh.”

This isn’t Karim’s first musical theatre role, as he performed in the West End productions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Lion King as a youngster, but Madagascar The Musical will be his first performance as an adult.

“I’ve not done a musical theatre role since I was a little one, so it’s quite nice to come back to it”, Karim said.

Karim also appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2019, making it to the final of the televised dance competition show. 

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“There’s a few dance moves in there, and you’ll see a few tricks which you may have seen on Strictly.”

In order to transform into King Julien, Karim explains that he has an incredible costume, as he said: “My costume is absolutely brilliant, and hilarious. I’ve got the crown and I’ve got the cape. I look like a lemur!

“I’m also very small, but I won’t tell you how I do that!”

Joining Karim on stage will be Joseph Hewlett as Alex, Francisco Gomes as Marty, Jarneia Richard-Noel as Gloria, Joshua Oakes-Rogers as Melman and many more talented individuals.

Speaking of performing in the North East for the first time, Karim said: “I’ve not been to Sunderland but I’m excited to go. I’ve heard the theatre is beautiful and I’m excited to see the sights and have some chips!

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Karim is good friends with South Shields comedian Chris Ramsey, and says he may ask his fellow Strictly Come Dancing star to come along with the kids to see the show.

Madagascar The Musical will be at the Sunderland Empire from Wednesday, November 22 until Saturday, November 25.

For more information and to book tickets, please visit the ATG Tickets website.