ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Authentic Enthusiasm Marks Connie Company’s Madagascar
Upbeat song and dance had the Davidson Community Players’ Armour Street boards bouncing by a troupe of lively Connie Company youngsters with their summer production of DreamWorks’ Madagascar—A Musical Adventure.
It was so much fun to see enthusiastic, young actors dancing across the stage after a year-and-a-half of silence. Genuine joy filtered through their clear-masked faces as they portrayed the animals in the Madagascar story.
Director Matt Webster had already begun rehearsals for the junior stage production of Madagascar when Covid-19 brought all live theatre to a halt. Eighteen months later, more than half the characters had to be recast, mostly by youngsters without theatrical experience. But that’s what The Connie Company is all about. The young thespians spent the summer learning new skills, mastering the choreography to deliver the energetic characters from the show.
Unlike the traditional capture of animals from the wild to be caged for city folks, Madagascar’s critters already live harmoniously at New York’s Central Park Zoo. Curious about freedom and adventure, they sneak out to Connecticut for a birthday celebration. Stunned by an evil sleep-producing dart, the animals are captured and sail away to what they thought could be San Diego, but find themselves in Madagascar, where King Julian rules the roost.
During a visit from his home in Fayetteville, Joshua Morrisey, with no theatrical experience, auditioned for the role of King Julian and was surprised to get the part. He has spent the summer with his grandmother at her Lake Norman home learning how to act, dance, and sing for his boisterous role.
As King Julian, Joshua is flanked by two young guards played by Ethan Saborido and Danil Sibgatullina. The serious-looking little uniformed lawmen whose arms remain crossed over their chests, never crack a smile behind their oversized dark glasses and see-through facial masks—nor do they speak. Danil couldn’t anyway, having just arrived from Russia with no facility in English.
The leading roles are played by experienced Connie Company actors Ian Cavendish as Alex the Lion, Cassidy Wade as Marty the Zebra, Amelia Vaughan as Gloria the Hippo and Eric Guo who plays Melman the Giraffe.
Every performer sings and dances with unbridled enthusiasm, including Libby Slosson, who portrays the Skipper; Violet Schoch, the Private; Grayson Hartzog as Kowalski; Johanna Yurina as Rico; JP Yurina as Mort; and Hadley Ashcraft, who portrays Maurice.
Other members of the lively musical Ensemble include Erin Acker, Cooper Hayes, Eve Langston, Vivian Nappier, Ella Pizza, Avelina Westerhaus, and Elisia Westerhaus.
For the past 25 years, the DCP Connie Company has been staging upbeat junior shows that are always fun. Their next production will be Disney’s High School Musical, Jr., this fall.