Her participation in the Solon Center for the Arts Musical Theater Workshop this summer has taught 13-year-old Simone Davis how to get out of her comfort zone.

Playing the character Marty the Zebra in the workshop’s production beginning tonight (July 11) of “Madagascar Jr.,” Simone, a Solon resident and student at Solon Middle School, has honed her acting skills. She has prepared for her role by listening to the music, watching the movie and thinking about how she wants to portray her character, she said.

“The students are learning acting, dancing and singing in camp,” SCA Theater Coordinator Katherine Tekesky explained of the workshop which includes campers ages 8-14.

The group of 25 has come in each day since the camp began in early June and done warm ups before either learning the staging of the show or taking part in dance or music rehearsals.

They have been hard at work putting together a full production in five weeks, Ms. Tekesky noted.

Eileen Miozzi, 13, of Solon said her participation, in addition to also getting her out of her comfort zone, has taught her to be more herself.

Eileen, a Solon Middle School student, plays Alex the Lion and has enjoyed preparing for the role by reading her lines and singing at home to practice.

Students have also been very hands on in other areas of the show’s production, including tie-dying their own shirts for the shows.

“The show has a lot of fun characters and music,” Ms. Tekesky explained. A movie from the DreamWorks Animation productions, “Madagascar Jr.” features the famous song “I Like to Move It.”

The play tells the story of Alex the Lion, who is king of the urban jungle, 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 whole lives in blissful captivity with an admiring public and regular meals provided for them. As the plot turns, Marty lets his curiosity get the best of him and makes an escape to explore the world.

Madagascar Jr. will be performed at 4 and 7 p.m. today (July 11) and at noon July 12 at the art center, 6315 SOM Center Road. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door.

The performance is under the direction of Kristina J. Ferencie with musical direction by Bill Shaffer. Camp counselors assisting with the show include Destiny Coe, Logan Jancsurak and Chad and Jake Ressler.

“Some students were in camp themselves when they were younger and now come back to help out to put it all together for the upcoming generation of theater kids,” Ms. Tekesky said. “It’s a wonderful thing to see.”

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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