One of these ducks is not like the other. It can be tough being different, and no one knows it better than Hans Christian Andersen’s immortal The Ugly Duckling, transformed into this humorous and touching musical HONK!, here performed by Off Broadway Children’s Theatre in Alpharetta, Georgia and directed by Colleen Quigley Green.

The young cast with only a couple high school-age performers do a very nice and humorous job with this one as the poor duckling named Ugly gets teased by his family and neighbors, hunted by a devious Cat, and tries to find a place for himself in the world. Mason Lewis stars as poor Ugly, his poignant Different solo is genuine and heartfelt, with a great sense for the importance of the song to his character and the story.

His mom Ida can tell he’s different long before he’s born. While all the other eggs in her nest are little white umbrellas, the big black umbrella has her a wee bit nervous. Ali Holliday is a riot as Ida, a natural with her motherly character exasperated by her energetic and not always obeying ducks, and a frustrated wife of a lazy father (Christopher Schwing). When she hears the un-characteristic “HONK!” from behind her, she starts crying even before turning around to see what came out of the big, black umbrella. But then she’s protective, loving, and comforting (“I knew you were one of mine,” she says to him at one point as she hugs him to her, while admitting something differently to the audience as she shakes her head no). Subtly mouthing her children’s complaining, “It’s not fair!” without them seeing her, as if she’d heard it a million times before. While also singing very well and showing her devotion to her different child in the story that follows.

Marlee Jones shines as a snazzy, confident, and charming Cat playing with his food before he eats it (and trying to prepare it with a nice cookbook prop – Rachel Ray’s 365 Ways to Cook a Duck). Crawford Horton and Owen Smith are a hoot as Greylag and Dot, a husband-and-wife goose team who work off each other to great effect as an old married couple with Greylag a stuffy and pompous commander and Dot his fairly patient but somewhat embarrassed wife, leading their group of geese on an entertaining Wild Goose Chase staged with Greylag carrying a whirligig propeller as he leads an airplane-formation of geese into the air with Dot on piggyback of one of the geese waving goodbye. Taylor Priday hits all the right notes as charismatic Bullfrog who, along with his dynamic group of Froglets, convinces Ugly that someone is going to love them Warts And All. Riley Hogan, Sophia Medley, Madeleine Noe, and Lucy Tschetter-Gaus are a quartet of good sassy, bratty, poking, pestering siblings who lead the rest of the barnyard birds in their unwelcoming Look At Him, while Cameron Morton is a sweet, dorky, modest, and caring Penny, with her and Ugly connecting especially well for their short scenes together – someone who doesn’t make him feel weird and different.

Performs April 24 - May 3, 2009

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Ugly: Mason Lewis
Ida: Ali Holliday
Drake: Christopher Schwing
The Cat: Marlee Jones
Downy: Riley Hogan
Millie: Sophia Medley
Fluff: Madeleine Noe
Beaky: Lucy Tschetter-Gaus
Maureen: Sydney O'Donnell
Henrietta: Sydney Grunwald
Grace: Kristen Feyt
Greylag: Crawford Horton
Dot: Owen Smith
Penny: Cameron Morton
Bullfrog: Taylor Priday
Jaybird: Noah Causey
Alexandra Arasi
Avery Bendall
Madison Davis
Lauren Downes
Clare Merideth-Webb
Sophie Tschetter-Gaus

Director: Colleen Quigley Green
Assistant Director: Kristen Smith
Producer: Christian and Shannon Mayer
Set Artistry and Murals: Tammy Tschetter and Janet Webb
Sound Technician: Morgan Greenfield
Frog Costumes: Judy Horn


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