The Academy of the New Church's Production of
tells a classic story about acceptance, familial love, and integrity. Overall, though, it acted as a reminder that coming of age is a universally confusing time; at least as humans we do not have to spend it evading a psychotic cat.
Written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, Honk! had its debut in England in 1993. The production expands on Hans Christian Andersen's tale of the Ugly Duckling, adding characters, songs, and a voluminous array of poultry-related puns.
The show was very clean and professional. The cast followed uniform choreography well without making it boring, and the singing in group numbers was impressively beautiful. On an individual scale, the cast members succeeded in finding the balance between showcasing their best animal mannerisms and giving their characters relatable human qualities.
Justine Brannon (Ida) and Simon Daum (Ugly) brought unique emotion to their roles. Brannon's Ida was the quintessential mother hen (though she was, of course, a duck) and she transitioned easily between annoyance over the monotony of everyday life and the pure anguish of any mother separated from her child. Daum captured both childhood innocence and adolescent awkwardness, becoming the sort of geeky protagonist everyone can root for. His nemesis, Natalie Thomas (Cat), truly embraced her feline side, scratching and pouncing even when she was not center stage.
A show about farm animals should never get too heavy, and Hosanna Odhner (Queenie) and Annalisa Synnestvedt (Lowbutt) stood out as sources of comic relief. A peek into the snobbish duo's lives, which involved "Sitting, and chatting . . . and sitting, and chatting . . . ," provided a break from the central drama. Dancers Lindsay Reuter, Mara Metroka, Megan Herder, and Brook Blair also assisted in carrying the story along, embodying fish, frogs, and snow as they helped Ugly discover himself.
The set was extremely impressive, especially considering it was created by students in the school's stage craft class and theater club. Larger-than-life props served as amusing visual reminders of the animals' smaller scale, but they never caused any problems with scene transitions. In fact, the crew, led by Aven Rose and Lyndon O'Conner, worked entirely inconspicuously.
In the end, Honk! reinforces the simple message to take pride in one's own distinctive accomplishments. Providing a very entertaining show, the cast and audience should certainly take this message to heart.