Madagascar is coming to the Growing Stage

Musical based on DreamWorks movie

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By Laurie Gordon

— The Growing Stage, The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey , will present Madagascar – A Musical Adventure from April 27 through May 20 with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 4:00 p.m. and a special Opening Night performance on Friday, April 27 at 7:30 pm.

Madagascar – A Musical Adventure, is based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture with a book by Kevin Del Aguila and Original Music and Lyrics by George Noriega and Joel Someillan.This production is under the direction of Stephen L. Fredericks, Executive Director/Founder of The Growing Stage, with musical direction by Stephen Fox and choreography by Jillian Petrie.

The musical will tell the story of Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hop Hippo and some hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto the stage in a fun and fabulous musical adventure.

Allie Ambriano will be playing the part of Gloria the Hippo. She said, “I have been performing since I was a little girl (dance recitals, voice recitals, musicals) but professionally for almost a year since I graduated college last May. Before that, I performed in many university and community productions.”

This will be Ambriano's third production with The Growing Stage.

“Rehearsal for Madagascar has been a blast,” she said. “I have worked with the creative team and half of the actors in the show before so we are all very close and have a great time together. It's impossible to not be happy with a group of people and show like this.”

Of her character, Ambriano said, “Gloria is so much fun, but, the biggest challenge with playing parts like this (besides the fact that they are animals) is the original was a cartoon. It wasn't a human. So, it's that fine line and finding the balance of wanting to pay homage to the fun original characters habits and personality but, also bring your own touch. That has been the most fun but also challenging part of the process.”

She said the biggest reward of acting is, “When you witness your work resonate with audience members. Whether they connect with your character, or they really just enjoyed the performance! I love making people feel things!That's what does it for me.”

Davis Lemley will be playing Marty the Zebra and said, “I have been acting on stage since I was ten years old. My very first role was playing a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz. With The Growing Stage, I have been a part of several productions including: Peter & the Starcatcher, A Christmas Carol, Cat in the Hat, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella. Outside of The Grown Stage, I have done productions of Rent, Hairspray, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Les Miserables, and Into the Woods.”

He added, “Rehearsals have been running very diligently. With so many elements to consider in this musical, the work has been non stop both in and out of rehearsals. It does wonders to work with such a driven group of actors that understand what it takes to make this piece come to life.”

Of his part, Lemley said, “This role that is challenging is the physicality. I could have a great rehearsal, where I can give my all through song and dance, as well as the scenes, but I can't forget that I am playing an animal. Becoming a zebra and learning their tendencies is the next level of my performance that I will continue to grow and discover.”

Lemley said, “Being an actor has given me the freedom to be myself, as well as provide a fun and welcoming environment for the audience. With every role I am offered, I get joy from developing a character that is an extension of myself. I love to play and discover things about a character that I can personally relate to.”

“Madagascar – A Musical Adventure follows all of your favorite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar,” said Danny Campos, the Marketing Director at The Growing Stage.“It features the talents of 10 NJ professional and community artists: James Ross of Monmouth Junction, NJ (Boy Sees Flying Saucer), as Alex the Lion; Lemley of Cedar Grove, NJ (The Cat In the Hat), as Marty the Zebra; Ambriano of Howell, NJ (Cinderella), as Gloria the Hippo; Kirk Jasen Lambert of Newark, NJ (Disney’s Beauty And The Beast), as Melman the Giraffe; Ryan Hagan of Limerick, PA (Boy Sees Flying Saucer), as Skipper the Penguin; Brandon Wiener of Hackettstown, NJ (Peter Pan), as Kowalski the Penguin; Sharon Romano of Gillette, NJ (A Christmas Carol), as Private the Penguin; Nikole Rizzo of Newburyport, MA (Cinderella) as Rico the Penguin; Grace Noel of Evansville, IN (Boy Sees Flying Saucer), as Maurice the Lemur and Na’Jee Tariq of Newark, NJ (TGS Debut), as King Julien.”

The Opening Night show, on April 27 at 7:30 pm, will feature a special post-show “talkback session” with the creative team.

Tickets for Madagascar—A Musical Adventure are $25 for Adults, $20 for Seniors and $15 for Children. To purchase tickets, visit The Growing Stage's website at or contact the Box Office at (973) 347-4946. Special group rates are available. The show is sponsored in part by Eric Blumencraz with additional funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the ongoing support from The Growing Stage’s corporate, foundation, family and individual partners.

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