Published in the October 25 – November 7 issue of Morgan Hill Life

TheatreFun production kicks off Oct. 26

From left, Lindsay Petroff, Kyle Strenfel, Delci Sawyer and Bridget Reynolds have an adventure in “Madagascar.”
Photo by Marty Cheek

An oddball group of animals escape from a New York City zoo and accidentally voyage to a tropical island.

The comic tale is told in a TheatreFun musical adventure performed by more than 50 young people from Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy who will bring the DreamWorks animated comedy “Madagascar” to life on the Morgan Hill Community Playhouse stage starting Thursday, Oct. 26.

Family audiences will delight in the wild adventures of Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo, and a group of zany penguins as they embark on the journey of a lifetime, which ultimately reveals that being lost can sometimes lead to discovering where one really belongs.
Featured actors include Jackson Music and Math Academy student Lindsay Petroff in the role of Alex the lion, Charter School of Morgan Hill students Kyle Strenfel in the role of Marty the zebra, Delci Sawyer as Gloria the hippo, St. Mary School student Bridget Reynolds as Melman the giraffe, and Britton Middle School student Isabella Novick as King Julian.

The story starts on Marty’s 10th birthday as a group of penguins at the zoo plan an escape to get back to Antarctica, Petroff said.

“They don’t like being in New York. They want to be where they belong. And they pass by Marty and he goes, ‘Well, I want to be in the wild,’” she said. “So he ends up escaping and then we all have to try to find him. Long story, short, we end up on a boat that’s suppose to be going to Africa and the penguins end up driving it to a little island called Madagascar.”

There, the zoo animals meet King Julian who is a bit crazy. All the characters except for Alex the lion love being in Madagascar, said.

Playing Marty the zebra has been fun for Strenfel who said this is the first time he has ever performed in theater. He enjoys the singing and dancing he gets to do on stage.

“My part is like higher up in the character roles. It’s pretty fun,” he said at a recent rehearsal. “I have a lot of lines that I have to memorize. I have most of them down.”

The lesson from the show’s story is that friends help each other when they’re in trouble and wild animals need to be where they belong, he said.

“I think the theme would be like you shouldn’t put animals in zoos. They want to be in the wild,” he said. “It’s definitely fun. It’s an experience I’ve never had before so it’s different than anything I’ve ever done before.”

Children playing penguins in the show include Ronni Hinch, 10, sixth grade at St. Catherine’s School, Kendall Lore, 10, fifth grade at Paradise Valley Elementary School, and Isabella Castaneda, 10, fifth grade at Jackson Academy of Math and Music.

“They have different personalities,” Lore said. “Ronni is a karate-chopping penguin, I’m the cute cuddly one, and Isabella is the smart one.”

Reynolds as Melmon the giraffe is a hypochondriac whose terror of getting sick is a source of many jokes in the show.

“He’s very scared of everything,” she said. “I need to get my shots. I need to take my medicine. There’s something wrong with me. He has a lot of great punchlines.”

When the zoo animals arrive in Madagascar, they meet lemurs. Among them is Evie Lehrfeld, 10, a fifth-grader at Charter School of Morgan Hill

“A lemur is like this animal that’s kind of like a squirrel but it has a really long tail,” she said.


She likes being in the show because it’s exciting to dance and sing and entertain audiences.

“You get to do a show with friends. And you get to practice and pick out cool costumes for your part.”

Sawyer, who plays Gloria the ballet-dancing hippo, said this is the third show she has done with TheatreFun and she likes how it helps her get another perspective of the world.

“I think my favorite thing about acting is being in somebody else’s shoes and seeing what it’s like to be them and seeing what they’re thinking about by what they say,” she said. “This show is based off a kids movie, but it’s still interesting to see how it’s like from their point of view.”


Marty Cheek

Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek