Lieske Bester reviews HONK!

HONK!
A Musical Comedy based on Hans Christian Andersen’s
UGLY DUCKLING
The Little Theatre Cape Town until 17 December 2011
Director: Kyla Thorburn
Musical Director: Justin Wardle
Bookings: 0729231035
Lieske Bester reviews

Tickets for this charming musical are surely the best present you can get anyone for any reason. I took my 8 year old grandsons as a Christmas treat and three generations loved the story and the spectacle, which appeals on many levels to any age.

The stage at times gets too crowded (if memory plays me right the cast outnumbers the 2004 Artscape production) but the magical costumes conjured up by June Wells (did the show have a Croc sponsorship?), the superb settings, decor and props, quirky choreography and inventive positioning give this familiar story a fresh and exciting update – complete with a cellphone – indispensable to life even in story land…

Justin Wardle and the splendid five piece band, peeping through the upstage foliage, add glitz, glitter and glow to match the numbers and the choral Elegy is a gem in the wonderfully varied string of musical numbers.

Individually and in combination, vocally and dramatically, performances all round are a pleasure to watch and listen to and the large number of young people in the cast is an extra attraction.

Bonny White is outstanding as Ida, with a glorious voice, an attractive and comfortable stage presence and a warm sincerity in the role, conveying the story’s messages and values with no overt moralizing. Solo (Different and Every Tear a Mother Cries), in duet (The Joy of Motherhood) with the perky duck mother Maureen (Allana Aldridge) and especially Hold your Head Up High with her ugly duckling (Julian Fernandez), are highlights of the show.
Graham Boxall’s Drake is a humorous but truthful take on fatherhood and its responsibilities, done with ease in movement and voice.
Richard White does the villainous cat with fieriness and flair (his
“Helloo Ducky” kept coming from the back seat at regular intervals
on the way home) but the French accent is somewhat elusive.
The Kitty’s Snack Shack scene and Play With Your Food with Ugly is a
show stealer.
The Queenie (a sinuous and sexy Lesley Gill) and Lowbutt (an
unrecognizable Laura Bosman) segment is very funny and full of clever
detail. The Queenie, Cat and Lowbutt Together is a delight.

The Goosechase number too is comically adroit and Graham Ellis a
spunky if unlucky flight captain.

At the centre of the piece is Ugly and what a remarkable transformation Julian Fernandez achieves: from a gawky, ungainly schoolboy to a curly haired young man (sorry, swan). He even seems taller – accentuated by the exquisite fairy tale swan Penny. Lovely in looks and voice (although not as audible as other vocals), magnificently dressed, Jennifer Moss is every young (and older) man’s dream.

Top of the Bill was a unanimous decision proposed by the twins.
Andrew Weiss as Bullfrog is indeed fantastic. Costume, make-up, characterisation and presentation combine into a showpiece of note.
What sense he makes – for Ugly and for us – warts, love and all!

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