Honk! The Musical

Date 9th May 2014
Society Sawston Youth Drama
Venue Marven Centre, Sawston, Cambridge
Type of Production Musical
Director Mark Long & Adam Bonner assisted by Gareth Furbank
Musical Director Clare Irwin
Choreographer Margaret Jacobs


Author: Sue Hartwell

George Stiles and Anthony Drewe's delightful high-energy musical comedy, based on Hans Christian Anderson's much-loved tale of The Ugly Duckling, is always a popular choice for youth groups and Sawston Youth Drama Juniors, consisting of around 50 young performers aged between 12 and 14, produced a really cracking show (excuse the pun)!

From the opening scene to the last chorus, the pace was slick, with performances confident and well-disciplined.  The simply devised set depicting the duck yard, complete with artificial "pond" constructed next to the orchestra pit for Ugly's first swimming lesson, worked well as the backdrop to the various scenes.  Appropriately over-sized on-stage props for Ida's nest in the opening scene, the cooking pot and kitchen table in the cat's lair and, in Act 2, the sofa and TV for the cottage scene, together with effective lighting and sound effects provided by the technical crew, all helped to create just the right atmosphere and illusion for this tale of a duckling's quest to find out why he's different from the rest of his brood.

There were some really fine performances from amongst the principal cast members.  Luke Gilderdale as Ugly gave a convincing performance as the gawky, odd-one-out hatchling. Alessia Maiorana was delightful as his devoted mother duck Ida, her growing desperation when Ugly goes missing quite tangible and emotional, particularly in her vocal number "Every Tear A Mother Cries".  Good, confident performances, too, from Harri Lindsell as the treacherous Cat, Keilan Grant in his cameo role as Jack Daw, the roving TV reporter and Alex Bedford as Greylag, "Squadron Leader" of the geese.  Two other young performers who impressed were Kate Rainsford as Queenie and Kirsty Smith as Lowbutt, their opening scene in Act 2 with Ugly and Cat one of the high spots of the evening - lovely characterisations from them both.  A great performance, too, from Sam Roberts as the Bullfrog - a natural comedian - with a very appropriate outfit!

The large supporting chorus of "farmyard birds, geese, fish and froglets" performed well, although, just at times, there was slight hesitation in their choreographed moves and some were concentrating so hard, they forgot to smile!  Nevertheless, they looked good in their various colourful costumes, as did the majority of the principals.  Personally, I would have liked to see Ugly's four duckling siblings, Downy, Fluff, Beaky and Billy, given a little more individuality in their costumes and for their father Drake to have had a slightly more flamboyant one as the drake about town!

Musically, the whole cast had done extremely well in achieving a good and solid performance of what is a fairly complex score with some quite tricky harmonies.  Young Clare Irwin, as Musical Director, had superb control over both the vocalists and her musicians, ensuring that the underscoring was sympathetic to the young voices at all times.  Well done!