At least a third of the cast of Musikmakers' year-opening stage musical Madagascar Jr come from the Waikato towns, which producer Jane Barnett says demonstrates the depth of talent in the region and is a credit to Riverlea's Stagecraft in-house theatre school.

Madagascar Jr the musical is an action-packed song and dance romp based on the 2005 DreamWorks smash animated movie.

The story starts with Alex the lion who is the main attraction at New York's Central Park Zoo.

He and his best friends – Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo – have spent their lives in blissful captivity with regular food.

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However, Marty lets his curiosity get the better of him and leads an escapade to explore the outside – with the help of some prodigious plotting penguins.

Cast members in costume (from left) Lamoni Muliaumusealii (Marty), River Park (Skipper), Chloe Smith (Gloria), Jack Turner (Melman) Memphis Ward (Alex) Jessica Eyeington (King Julien).
Cast members in costume (from left) Lamoni Muliaumusealii (Marty), River Park (Skipper), Chloe Smith (Gloria), Jack Turner (Melman) Memphis Ward (Alex) Jessica Eyeington (King Julien).

Filled with outlandish characters, fantastic costuming and an upbeat score, Madagascar Jr will leave audiences with no choice but to "Move It, Move It!"

Directed by Hamilton's Toni Garson, auditions began in September resulting in a cast of 32 aged between 10 and 18 years with a good representation from towns including Te Awamutu, Morrinsville, Cambridge and Raglan.

Advertising and auditions were promoted through schools and through members of the Riverlea Stagecraft school which is run during the year, through Riverlea's database and families associated with its theatre groups.

Musikmakers' musical Madagascar Jr is tailored to the family audience and is best for children four years old and over.

The production is 1 hour 20 minutes including an interval.

With choreography by Rebeka Robertson-Yells, musical direction Coryn Knapper and production Jane Barnett, wardrobe Lesley Wilson.

Madagascar Jr can be seen at the Riverlea Theatre Wednesday Jan 15, 11am and 2pm; Thursday January 16 11am and 2pm; Friday January 17, 2pm and 7pm; Saturday 2pm and 7pm.

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Tickets iTicket, or call the theatre 07 8565450.