Brooklin students ‘move it, move it’ in musical production of ‘Madagascar’

Students at St. Bridget Catholic School take the popular movie "Madagascar" to the stage until May 4. .
Students at St. Bridget Catholic School take the popular movie "Madagascar" to the stage until May 4. . Jasmine Pazzano

Dozens of Brooklin students are bringing to life the tale of four zoo animals lost in the wild that many families know and love.

Kids from Grades 4 to 8 attending St. Bridget Catholic School debuted their rendition of Madagascar – A Musical Adventure Jr., a live production of the DreamWorks animation film Madagascar.

Many students say they were much more than just actors in the musical — they directed and executed nearly every piece of the production, including the choreography, vocals, blocking, marketing and set design.

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“All of these sets… behind us, they’re all hand drawn and printed out,” said 13-year-old Aidan Duarte, who plays Marty the zebra. “We definitely do a lot.”

The crew created colourful, detailed backdrops for every scene, including one of downtown New York City with Broadway-show signs that read Wicked and Hairspray.

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“It’s almost… shocking to, in the end, see what we did… see we did this, we did that,” said Melissa Martynek, 12, who is performing as Gloria the hippo. “We put this together. We built it.”

The show is based on the 2005 movie that some of the cast and crew had never seen before, as for many of the students, it is before their time.

Thirteen-year-old Andre Marques, who plays Alex the lion, says he didn’t grow up with this movie, so he had to do his research. “The movie was actually pretty funny,” he said. “I liked the movie and I watched it over and over to get into this role.”

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One of the most memorable characters in the film is King Julien, the spunky ring-tailed lemur with a South Asian accent who sings the Reel 2 Real song “I Like to Move It.”

Student Liam Walsh, 13, sings a rendition of the song as part of playing the character, and says he snagged the role for his spot-on impression. He said, “I tried to copy the voice as best as I could, and I think I got it down pretty good.”

Justin Pugelj, the drama teacher at St. Bridget, said the school has put on productions like this one for more than a decade — this is its 12th production in 14 years. He says even the shiest students are showcasing their talents in this year’s show.

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“I always want to make sure we give those kids a chance to, kind of, come out of their [shells], showcase what they are,” he said. “It’s amazing because sometimes, in these shows, when they get to do this for the very first time, and they come out of their [shells], they seem to blossom.”

The students are performing the musical until May 4, and Pugelj says the shows are drawing an audience of 1,600 students from across Durham Region.