SHIRLEY -- Join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the Hippo and, of course, those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto the Ayer Shirley Middle School stage in the musical adventure of a lifetime.

Over 20 local youth ages 8 - 14 from Ayer, Shirley, Groton, Pepperell, Fitchburg, and Lunenburg will perform three shows at Ayer Shirley Middle School, 1 Hospital Road, Shirley: Friday, July 21 at 7 p.m., Saturday, July 22 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, July 23 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, available at the Hazen Memorial Library, 3 Keady Way, Shirley; or $15 at the door.

Based on the smash DreamWorks animated motion picture, "Madagascar -- A Musical Adventure JR." follows all of your favorite crack-a-lackin' friends as they escape from their home in New York's Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien's Madagascar.

The main cast include young local actors Rosalind Lupaczyk of Shirley (Alex), Sam Oestreicher of Shirley (Marty), Sofia Santoro of Groton (Gloria), Olivia Oestreicher of Shirley (Melman), Emily D'Eon of Pepperell (King Julien), and Mylee Dodier of Lunenburg (Penguin Skipper).

For more information about this Madagascar JR. production or ShirleyArts! and its programs for children and adults, visit www.shirleyarts.org or email Meredith Marcinkewicz at