|Date||19th March 2022|
|Society||Springers Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society|
|Venue||The Cramphorn Theatre Chelmsford|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Musical Director||Sue Edwards|
|Written By||Anthony Drew|
Author: Christine Davidson
Honk by Anthony Drew Music by George Stiles
Cramphorn Theatre 19th March 2022
Directed by Rachel Hall
Choreographer Lula Hemmings
Musical Director Sue Edwards
Offspringers always seem to be innovative in finding fun, interesting musicals for their youth theatre and this show is no different. This charming and cleverly written musical by Drew and Stiles is eggsactly what youth groups are gaggling for. Full of quacking good humour and lots of chances to put feathers in all the characters caps. The commitment and enthusiasm of all the cast was to be seen on all the faces of the youngsters throughout the production and the full house of parents, family and friends certainly showed their applause at the end of the evening. After two years of the Pandemic it was great to see so many children on the stage again, having a cracking good time! Honk is a retelling of The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen. Devran Arslan as Drake the father of the ducklings opened the show singing the song 'A Poultry Tale' His portrayal of the father was excellent and he did justice to the song which was a great introduction to the characters so we got to know who was who in the farmyard.
James Birchmore played Ugly and had the voice of an angel. I could have listened to him singing all night. What a star in the making. His emotions of vulnerability, innocence, sadness and happiness were all portrayed to the audience and we all wanted him to finally find happiness at the end. His honk was truly funny. Well done James.
Isabel Morgan-Bade as Ida the mother acted with emotion and conviction and gave a sympathetic performance, her anxiety and worry at losing Ugly was palpable. Singing 'The Joy of Motherhood' she too had a good voice, I just found sometimes though, that her dialogue was too fast and I couldn't catch everything she said.
Alex Munteanu as The Cat was a joy to watch. Funny and naughty, she really caught the essence of the role and you could feel just how much she wanted to eat Ugly for dinner. She brightened up the stage every time she came on.
There were 35 children on the stage who all added to this cracking show and it would take too long to mention everyone. Notable performances were from Libby Hall as Queenie and Erin Potgieter as Lowbutt. Their song 'It takes all sorts' was sung well but as with some other songs on the night the orchestra tended to drown out some of the words. Maybe the sound gain could have been increased? There was definitely an inconsistency between the various mike levels during the evening.
I loved the Bullfrog(Sophie Brett), what a fun role to portray. Greylag(Jack Funnell) and Dot (Lulu Dodsworth) did justice to the roles of air force commander and his squadron of geese. Maja Skoric as Penny the swan and Martha Carmichael as Maureen also gave confident performances.
The stage at The Cramphorn Theatre is not large but Offspringers made the most of the space and managed to create the feel of the farmyard. I would have loved to have not seen the backstage crew especially at the beginning taking off the nest as it did rather spoil the suspension of disbelief, maybe darkening one half of the stage whilst they came on would have helped. I know that due to so many of the crew getting Covid it was particularity difficult for them and totally understand how hard it is to put on a show during these times but just putting down the lights for a second would have made this scene a little more believable.
Costumes were colourful and the scene where the ducklings hatch was very clever taking off their white hoodies to emerge in their bright yellow caps and dungarees. Lighting was fine although occasionally each side of the stage had the cast in shadow. I did love the ripple effect of the pond on the stage.
I felt the Choreography was a little lacking and I'm sure the cast could have been challenged to take on more. The frog scene definitely needed looking at.
Directing this production for Springers for the first time was Rachel Hall with experienced Sharon Scott as her Assistant Director. Her love of teaching youngsters was obvious and she should be so pleased with how the evening went. Her enthusiasm and love of performance shone through and I'm sure Springers will be asking her back to direct again soon.
This was a super show for the children to be involved in and I can’t wait to see just what they decide to create next. Thank you to both directors and Anver Anderson for looking after us so well on the night. Well done to everyone.
NODA Rep District 8