Date 23rd March 2023
Society Stage One 2000 Musical Youth Theatre
Venue Mosslands High School
Type of Production Musical
Director Brenda Davies
Musical Director Sian James
Choreographer Allie Bentley-Jones
Producer Brenda Davies
Written By Anthony Drewe


Author: Joanne Rymer


Stage 0ne 2000


Honk is a great show for a youth company. There are plenty of strong musical numbers and a large cast. Ida and Drake are expecting a brood of young ducklings. Ida, Niamh Haslam, wiles away the days sitting on a clutch of eggs singing the lovely song, "The Joy of Motherhood." After a two-week wait, the eggs are hatched and four charming, yellow, fluffy siblings come out of their shells. However, one huge egg has yet to break open and when it finally does, out comes an ugly duckling Jack Darker yelling "Honk."

Inspired by the classic Hans Christian Andersen story about the Ugly Duckling, Honk! fills the stage with chicks and ducks and geese and other farmyard animals as the bullied and vilified young Ugly, with grubby feathers and stubby beak, learns to love his differences and find his way home after getting lost in the wild

 ‘A Poultry Tale’ was an excellent introduction to the characters and it was interesting to work out which birds they were representing. The young cast did not dress up as ‘birds ‘their costumes depicting their individual species, which worked very well. Well done Jenny King and team, Jules Bradley and Helen Kingsley-Bryant.

Dominic Williams as Drake struts around self-importantly except when a spot of parenting is called for. His flustered management of the fluffy little ducklings, Webby, Fluff, Billy, Downey and Beaky is hilarious. Annie Green as know-it-all neighbour, Maureen the Moorhen, is ready on hand to help as the jostling and answering back ducklings, scoot off with Drake for a first swim. Lovely performances from Hetty, Daisy, Amelie, Joyce and Sophie.

Jack Darker plays the role of Ugly brilliantly showing all the emotions needed; innocence, sadness, vulnerability and finally happiness and pride as he realised who he really was, a magnificent swan. Jack has a lovely singing voice, his loud honk caused great amusement with the audience.  Jacks touching number, Different, tells us “Different isn’t scary, different is no threat " So why is it so hard to get along?”, which resonates as much now as in 1993 when the first version of the musical premiered. Lovely performance Jack.

As his mother Ida, Niamh Haslam gave an engaging sympathetic performance, her anxiety at losing Ugly was really moving, a mother who refuses to desert her son, but who also instinctively knows when the time has come to let him go. Niamh has a lovely singing voice, her simply-spoken "He's my son and I love him" hangs in the air like a challenge to anyone who disputes her maternal rights, even though she's a duck and he's a swan. Niamh’s rendition of ‘Every tear a Mother Cries’ is enchanting.  A fine performance from Niamh.

The Director Brenda Davies cast this production beautifully obviously knowing what she wanted from  the piece. She had a great team,  sound & lighting Derek Bosley, stage management Clinton Bell.

After being lured out of the farmyard by the cat, Ugly gets lost and goes on his year-long adventure

The incompetent villain of the piece is of course the cat, played wonderfully with feline guile by Libbie Bentley Jones. A tom cat whose determination to have a ‘duck dinner’ knew no bounds, however being easily fooled make her a likeable character whom we knew would never really get the better of Ugly.  Loved her duet with Ugly ‘Play with your Food’. Great comedic performance.

Ugly next stumbles into the home of Queenie and Lowbutt, lovely performances from Anna Phillips as Lowbutt and Lily Criddle as Queenie. Their characters Anna the homely comfortable bird and Lily the femme fatale cat, was classic and both girls with their different vocal styles sang ‘It takes all sorts’ beautifully.They recognise Ugly from the TV reports by journalist Maggie Pie, Gracie Barham, and try to call and report they have found him, but the Cat shows up to foil the plot. Only a brief romantic interlude between the Cat and Queenie buys Ugly time for escape.

The rest of the cast shine in a variety of different roles, with Sam Darker giving a fine comic performance as an Irish frog, loved his hopping moves across the stage, he was simply splendid. Joined by the full company the song ‘Warts & All’ was a highlight of the show for me.

Alfie Greer is so funny as the preposterous Turkey, who tells us he is so happy to have survived Christmas. A comedic performance above his years, well done Alfie. Thank you, Thomas Graves, Rooster, Harry Darker, Chicken ,Molly Saville ,Grace, Emilia Delaney, Henrietta, Imogen  Hendrie, Old Women, for your happy faces and huge smiles, you were fab.

The Geese, portrayed as a second world war squadron under the stiff-upper-lip leadership of the bossy and bumbling wing commander Greylag, Caleb Williams-Hunt, and Dot, Sophie Brown and Barnacles, Carys Kingsley are a delight.

Over 20 years on, Stiles & Drewe’s songs continue to charm, with pleasing melodies and witty lyrics, however it is a complicated score. Under musical director Sian James the music is richly arranged with clarity to ensure the word play and witty rhymes can be enjoyed. 

The whole cast entered into their respective roles with commitment and enthusiasm and they gave their all. ‘Honk!’ is a musical I hadn’t seen before and so didn’t know quite what to expect. We were treated to see an extremely talented young cast, with clever touches, such as the appearance of the Swans Freya Smith & Ruby Thomas through a blizzard, meeting Mother Swan, Freya Barham, Snowy, Mia Haslam.  Ugly is reunited with swan Penny, Amelia Carter. Great choreography from Allie Bentley-Jones, loved the use of the snowy satin sheets in the transformation from Ugly to his magnificent white top hat and tails white dinner suited Swan. Loved soloist Awen Kingsley, a nice touch.

We must not forget to mention our youngest cast members Maggie, Florence, Roisin, Amelia P, Anjali and Abigail Stage One 2000 is in good shape for the future.

What a special evening, an egg-ceptional  experience.(SORRY) Stage 2000 are quite a unique group, with two/three generations of the same family treading the boards. Mums, Dads Grandparents and enthusiastic siblings are the cheering supportive audience. This is community theatre at its very best long may it continue.

Thank you for my invitation, it was a special evening. See you again next year.


Joanne Rymer


District 4