Many animals speak in “Madagascar Jr.”

Photo by Jason Kaplan Ann O’Connor gives the young thespians stage directions during a rehearsal of “Madagascar Junior.”

Photo by Jason Kaplan
Ann O’Connor gives the young thespians stage directions during a rehearsal of “Madagascar Junior.”

The directors had three reasons for choosing “Madagascar Junior” as the Lee Road School show.

-They liked the friendship theme.

-The kids were familiar with the Dreamworks movie

-And the script had several speaking parts.

The number of speaking parts was important, because the directors wanted to give a few lines to each fourth-grader in the cast. And this year, there were more fourth-graders than in previous productions.

It should be understood that most of the speakers in “Madagascar” are animals that have been blessed with the gift of gab. They have been contented with their life in the Central Park Zoo until Marty the Zebra encourages them to escape.

Marty is one of about 25 characters in the show who gets to voice an opinion. That’s a lot. But still not enough for the current cast. So the directors decided to improvise. They added animals and created new characters. For example, they gave Alex the Lion a twin sister Alexa. Then they gifted Melman the Giraffe with a little sidekick known as “Mini-Mel.”

The kids memorized their parts soon after they started rehearsals in October. They got Christmas week off, but went back to work on New Year’s Day. Since then they’ve been practicing every afternoon.

“Don’t forget to have fun,” Ann Shatto O’Connor reminded them as they polished one of the dance routines. This is her final show after directing Lee Road performances for a dozen years.

Mrs. O’Connor is an Equity actress, director and singer/songwriter. Before taking over the Lee Road productions, she had no connection to Cornwall schools. She took the assignment as a favior to a friend, and stayed on the job because of her devotion to the people she met.

Karen Snider has also remained involved for longer than you would expect. She retired as a Cornwall music teacher last spring, but that didn’t keep her from coming back as the show’s music director.

Performances are scheduled for the high school (not Lee Road School) for 4 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 13. Spectators can attend an open dress rehersal (with reduced price admission) at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 12. “Madagascar Junior” is a single act show with no intermission.

CAST

Grade 4: Matthew Argenio, Maggie Ayala, Maia Blacksmith, Marcella Bolado, Julie Campbell, Jackson Coleman, Beah Coutant, Ava Demar, Jacob DeSousa, Rebecca Doty, Reese Downes, Christopher Drake, Spencer Drake, Michael Duffy, MaryAnne Dunsmore, Una Freeman, Emilie Glaisek, Kiefer Grossmann, Emma Halvorsen, Ella Hessari, Patricia King, Jean Lawrence, Olivia Lewis, Evyn Lovell, Bianca Martelli, Ritika Nagrani, Nitya Narra, Lea Patak, Zoe Patak, Lucas Perez, Tianna Perez, Angelina Pinedo, Allison Potter, Fiala Query, Chloe Regina, Jack Reynolds, Lily Reynolds, Madison Riccardi, Hannah Salisbury, Audrey Santiago, Emersen Shapiro, Dillon Stramiello, Valerie Till, Artie Tucker, Grace Vanderberg, Madeline VanDerHeide, Katie Zatlukal

Grade 3: LilyAna Gasparini, Ann Maya Jos, Penelope Kulic, Ryan Lane, Cash McLendon, Christian Moyik, Sydney O’Dwyer, Jonathan Smith, Macie Bea Stermer, Brooke Thorpe, Jason Tym, Evan Venarchick.

Grade 2: Gabriella Allegra, Brielle Ayuso, Lucca Berardinelli, Charlotte Cangemi, Maisy Coutant, Caitlyn Dennedy, Chloe Duffy, Emily Dumlao, Jackson Fogarty, Edylene Goodglass, Daniel Hayes, Quinn Johnson, Leah Jones, Karlee King, Sarah Pagano, Mary Perusomala, Teagan Rourke, Sienna Stramiello, Emily Whitney

Grade 1: Joseph Doty, Emily Dunsmore, Joey Grammerstorf, Ava Halvorsen, Brielle Martinez, Grainne Murray, Hannah Peterson, Makayla Riccardi, Kayla Slattery, Molly Violetti, Aidan Ward

Grade K: Matthew Bellini, Chloe Cao, Andrew Hurley, Chiarra Marasco, Sinead McGrail Bodhin Vogt

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Editorial Staff