Windham Center Stage’s 2022 children’s show, "Madagascar Jr.," is a
silly, energetic, fun respite from the craziness of the world.
Cast B opened last Saturday evening in front of a sold-out crowd, bringing the
quirky characters from the classic children’s movie to life on stage. The show
details the hilarious adventures of four best friends (a zebra, a lion, a hippo
and a giraffe) who break out of the Central Park Zoo and end up on Madagascar.
There, they must navigate the laws of nature and pull together to find their
way home, with the help of some clever penguins who also escaped. The upbeat
message at the end is that all they really need is each other to be happy,
wherever they are.
The cast, though smaller than in a typical year for WCST children’s shows, filled the stage with high energy and enthusiasm. This is an ensemble show, and the main characters had a great rhythm and balance while on stage together, playing off each other well.
Each of the performers with larger roles captured the familiar personality traits that fans of the movie will easily recognize: Marty’s sassy sense of adventure, Alex’s love of the spotlight, Gloria’s straight talking voice of reason, Melman’s neurotic hypochondria, King Julien’s egocentric self-assurance and the penguins no nonsense, get things done attitude.
The musical numbers kept the storyline moving forward while showcasing the
talent of the young performers, who were clearly enjoying every second. “Best
Friends” highlights the friendship between Alex (played by Kaitlyn Dickson) and
Marty (played by Leanna Rogers), with high energy, fun choreography, and
“I Like To Move It” was especially entertaining
and fun, evoking a sense of both excitement and chaos as the cast filled the
stage to celebrate freedom from the Foosa.
Costumes and sets were kept simple for this show, requiring performers to convey the essence of their characters through facial and body movements and animated delivery of lines.
“Madagascar Jr.” was the perfect length at an hour and a half, including intermission. Each act was packed with enough action to keep the audience, filled with families and young children, fully engaged. At the end, after the curtain call, young members of the audience who had purchased animal ears when they arrived, were invited on stage for a lively dance party.
Before the show began, director Laurie Shepard said that her philosophy is that every actor gets a moment. The show clearly demonstrated this philosophy; even cast members in smaller roles had an opportunity to shine on stage. Those with smaller parts played two or three roles, and many of the musical numbers included the full cast.
With a familiar storyline, catchy musical numbers, and a cast that clearly enjoys what they are doing, “Madagascar Jr.” doesn’t disappoint. As Shepard said, it’s “a little light in a difficult world.”
“Madagascar Jr.” runs through March 20, with Friday and Saturday evening shows at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.windhamcenterstagetheater.com <