Tuesday February 20th 2018

“Madagascar” at Chicago Shakespeare with notes from 9 year old Lily Kienzle

Highly Recommended ***** This is evidently the year of Dream Works as Chicago Shakespeare Theater follows the footsteps of Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire bringing the musical adventure “Madagascar” on its stage. While I truly loved the Marriott production, Chicago Shakespeare’s larger “thrust” stage allows more scenery and more spectacle  than the in-the-round of Lincolnshire. Directed to her usual perfection by Rachel Rockwell, this 75 minute production will capture the hearts of every audience member, from toddler  to  senior citizen. Once again, my very busy grandkids could not fit today’s opening into their schedule, so with no kids available at “rent-a-kid”, I contacted my niece’s sister, who luckily has a 9 -year- old that loves theater. Lily was a great addition to my “team” and told me that she loved the entire production. In particular she enjoyed the sequence about Alex, a Lion ( Jordan Brown is a powerhouse) as he dreams of having a steak. There is a tremendous tap dance bit where the steaks, some in top-hat with canes tap it out! She also adored Gloria, a Hippopotamus  ( deftly handled by Lisa Estridge) as she did her “booty shake” and of course, loved the penguins, led by Leah Morrow (who seems to be a regular in the role of Skipper and does so with great ability), Tony Carter, Erica Stephan and Adrienne Storrs. She of course was eager to jump in for the “Move It, Move It” number during the curtain call, but her eyes lit up during the actual number as led by  King Julien (powerful performance by Aaron Holland).

Of course Lily was into the other zoo animals as well. Marty , a Zebra ( Gilbert Domally surely loved every minute of this role) and the incredible Stephen Schellhardt as Melman, the hypochondriac giraffe. He nailed it! This is a strong production where the four main characters truly are the storyline, but it is the ensemble that brings all the pieces together in the many roles they play. The penguins also take on several roles as did Holland and a tip of my hat to Holly Stauder who tackled three roles, Ron King ( at least 4 for him), Hanah Rose Nardone and  Ciera Dawn. They changed costumes and characters several times in a 75 minute production and never missed a cue.

The story is about the journey that these New York animals have as they escape from Central Park Zoo and end up on the far away island of Madagascar. The story has some deep roots about friendship and the way that people ,or in this case animals, who are different from each other can bond and have a great relationship. I guess one can call this a musical exploration of friendship and what it means to care about and for others even if they are different from you.

The music is directed by Germaine Hill, who along with his other three musicians made the theater at Navy Pier rock (Julia Schade Armstrong, Sean McNeely and Ethan Deppe) made the theater at Navy Pier rock!. The set (Scott Davis) was very cool and they used the stage to perfection. Jesus Perez handled the costumes which were sensational. The projections by Shawn Sagady and the lighting by Jesse Klug were as usual at this venue, perfect ,and the puppets by Sarah Ross were wonderful. Ray Nardelli’s sound was ideal, taking the DreamWorks “Madagascar” a Musical Adventure, based on the animated film with a book by Kevin Del Aguila and music and lyrics by George Noriega and Joel Somellian come to life on Navy Pier.

“Madagascar” will continue at Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier thru August 27th with performances as follows:

Sun, Jul 23: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Wed, Jul 26: 11:00am
Thu, Jul 27: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Fri, Jul 28: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Sat, Jul 29: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Sun, Jul 30: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Wed, Aug 2: 11:00am
Thu, Aug 3: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Fri, Aug 4: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Sat, Aug 5: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Sun, Aug 6: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Wed, Aug 9: 11:00am
Thu, Aug 10: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Fri, Aug 11: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Sat, Aug 12: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Sun, Aug 13: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Wed, Aug 16: 11:00am
Thu, Aug 17: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Fri, Aug 18: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Sat, Aug 19: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Sun, Aug 20: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Wed, Aug 23: 11:00am
Thu, Aug 24: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Fri, Aug 25: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Sat, Aug 26: 11:00am & 2:00pm
Sun, Aug 27: 11:00am & 2:00pm

Price: $22-$34

To order your tickets call

Box Office: 312-595-5600


Discounted parking is available

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at

“Madagascar- A Musical Adventure”Lily with Skipper (Leah Morrow)


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