It ain’t easy being different. Or ugly, to which the Ugly Duckling can attest. But it is easy to enjoy this musical version of the Hans Christian Andersen tale that beat out The Lion King for a Best Musical Laurence Olivier award. It’s a show filled with loads of humor for the youngest kids and oldest adults, set to a classic story and stuffed with great tunes. And the Greasepaint Scottsdale Youththeatre is currently putting on an excellent production of it.

Kendrick Cornelius comes over from the nearby community college to star as Ugly, a talented actor who clearly has a feel for the character, getting both extra humor and poignancy out of it with his facial expressions and body language. And a great singing voice to boot, which he probably inherited from his “mother,” with the genuinely sweet and motherly Brianon Miller playing the befuddled mother duck named Ida who can’t understand why one of her six eggs is significantly larger than the others. But unlike the rest of the birds around the barnyard, she is determined to make sure Ugly is loved as one of the family.

The only other resident of the farm who isn’t making Ugly feel bad is the bad, old, hungry Cat who invites Ugly over for a little lunch. Matthew Crosby is a huge hit as the charismatic Cat you love to hate who so enjoys playing with his food before he eats it. But how far will he go for the big meal? A bonk on the head by a huge baseball crashing through his window won’t stop him. How about getting mixed up in a Wild Goose Chase led by stodgy, military English goose Greylag (Robert Davis) along with his amusing wife (Marylou Stephens) and his troops who dare the guns of hunters to return Ugly home? Or perhaps the hilariously seductive, vain, and spoiled feline Queenie (Mallory Fox) will reign in the old tom? Or a blizzard…

Said Queenie (Mallory Fox) and her domesticated chicken friend Lowbutt (Natasha Edwards) team up impressively to deliver one of the biggest highlights of the show, both with remarkable knacks for comedy and their characters. Fifteen-year-old Brett Moellenberg also serves up the laughs as the not-so-princely, dry-humored Frog who tries to convince Ugly that someone’s going to love him “warts and all.” Nicholas Araujo is the breezy father Drake and Aishling Coyne is the beautiful, young cygnet Penny with a strangely familiar type of honk. The good ensemble includes a variety of barnyard fowl that includes Ugly’s adorably mean siblings including Taylor Stephens, Brookie Allen, Talia Kahn, Ashlyn Biggs, and Megan Farinella.

Director Jack Pauly has the show running smoothly with a strong cast and an eye for emotions and good visuals, with Matt Ortega’s lighting adding greatly to the show along with Jeff Blake’s sets and Kali Lambson’s variety of snappy costumes.

Performs through April 30, 2006.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Ugly: Kendrick Cornelius
Cat: Matthew Crosby
Ida: Brianon Miller
Drake: Nicholas Araujo
Penny: Aishling Coyne
Greylag: Robert Davis
Lowbutt: Natasha Edwards
Beckwick: Danny Epstein
Camera Girl/Ensemble: Tessa Ferguson
Maureen: Carly Fischer
Queenie: Mallory Fox
Pinkfoot: Shelby Garrett
Turkey: Tom Holmberg
Mother Swan: Kara Keosky-Smith
Barnacles: Jared Mitchell
Frog: Brett Moellenberg
Maggie Pie: Kaleena Newman
Grace: Shannon Saldutte
Henrietta: Caitlin Stegemoller
Dot: Marylou Stephens
Downy: Brookie Allen
Beaky: Taylor Stephens
Fluff: Talia Kahn
Billy: Ashlyn Biggs
Webster: Megan Farinella
Chelsea Knutson
Lindsey Stegemoller

Director: Jack Pauly
Music Director: Deanna Freund
Choreographer: Holly Moran
Stage Manager/Sound Designer/Lighting Designer: Matt Ortega
Set Designer: Jeff Blake
Costume Designer: Kali Lambson
Prop Designer: Joni Chanko
Scenic Artist: Vanessa Davidson


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