Gorleston Theatre Company, ‘HONK!’ Gorleston Pavilion Theatre. 12-04-2017
Director; Jeannie Kinkaid, MD, Sorrel Adams, Choreography; Louise Archer, Charlotte Durrant.
If only this piece had a title the public could understand…it would receive far more credit and accolades than perhaps it does under its’ licensed title (HONK!)… Of course it is the tale of one of Hans Anderson’s favourite tales ‘The Ugly Duckling’. All was to become totally clear as this well conceived production told this emotional tale with some lovely portrayed roles with more human overtures! From the clever egg hatching moment as four cute little ducklings (Dylan Taylor, Yazmin Feek, Leah-Mallett, Willow Abbotts-Freeman.) popped into the world leaving the big brown egg of dubious origin to follow as Drake (David Clarke) defends his paternity with a certain amount of pride and just enough doubt to keep us guessing? Mother Duck Ida (Andrea Whiting) was of course indignant that all was above board and that the egg was no ‘cuckoo in the nest’. This pair were well matched and with the necessary display of warmth and parental angst providing constant reassurance throughout.
The big egg did eventually hatch to reveal the gangly proportions of ‘Ugly’ (Neville Rowell) the, shall we say, unusual duck with considerable ‘different’ appearance and demeanour. From the outset we were aware that his was to be a performance to remember; enhanced by his high quality singing voice we were entranced as he managed to navigate his way through the traumatic paddlings and flutters as he progressed to that picture of the confident and handsome ‘Swan’ as per the story we all remember ! He was HONK to a tee ! (perhaps a few more of his throat curdling “Honks” were needed to justify the title!). There were traumas along the way of course, and Cat (Chris Whiting) showed the necessary cunning to lure our ‘would be’ hero to his lair under all sorts of pretexts with wily aplomb and fine vocal renditions. He was thwarted by some noteable interventions from other Characters along the way many playing more than one part (to confuse your reviewer!)… We had Greylag the Goose (Nick Funnell) also featured as the maligned Teacher Turkey supported by Dot Goose (Terry Wing) in a super ‘flight scene’ and song. Various helpful Ducks or Fowl of unknown origin all adding some gravitas to the search for our ‘lost Ugly’; Maureen (Lyn Waterfield), posh cat Queenie (Maureen Rogers), Lowbutt (Angie Smith), Grace (Pauline Dyball), Henrietta ( Clare Johnson), Mother Swan (Laraine Gooch) as she preens herself with pride and just a few reservations as her daughter Penny is wooed and falls in love with our ‘handsome Ugly’ as he completes his transformation into a majestic Swan! Add to this the balletic grace of Spirit of The Lake (Sidony Gooch) and the ever watchable Junior ensemble plus more fine vocal support from the Adult Ensemble all performing with enthusiasm and well balanced vocals to the accompaniment of an effective backing track score (Not the orchestra listed!) a brave but successful decision! This was a well considered entertaining production and provided yet more evidence of the new emerging team behind a rejuvenated GTC who were nominated for NODA Best Musical for their 2016 production of ‘Oklahoma’. We look forward to their Autumn show, the ever popular ‘Me and My Girl’. Keep up the good work!
Review by Terry Rymer (NODA Rep Dist. 6)
Honk! - Wednesday 12th to Saturday 15th April 2017
Director: Jeannie Kinkaid
MD: Sorrel Adams
Choreographers: Louise Archer & Charlotte Durrant
Based on the children’s Han Christian Anderson story of the Ugly Duckling, Honk! is the updated Musical adaptation, which the Gorleston Theatre Company (GTC) staged this year. The show takes the story of the Ugly Duckling and incorporates musical numbers like ‘Different’ which highlights the theme behind the Musical – In that it’s ok to be different.
The GTC, whose more recent productions include Oliver! as well as their traditional Christmas pantomimes, really outdid themselves with Honk! With a cast of more than 30, choral numbers, one of which was ‘Warts and All’, sung by David Clark and the superb Ensemble, was full of fun and full of volume. Other performances that stood out were Chris Whiting’s character ‘Cat’, whose devilishly cunning accent created an air of mischievousness. His song ‘You Can Play With your Food’ caused many a smile from the audience. Neville Rowell who played ‘Ugly’ really made you feel for his plight against his peers and the other farmyard animals, led by ‘Grace’ the Farmyard’s ‘most distinguished’ leader, played by Pauline Dyball.
Honk! also included several young children, who danced, sung and acted just as well as their adult counterparts; a credit to the Theatre Company and their parents.
The 1st Act ended with Ugly lost after running away from the unwelcome attention of Cat. The 2nd Act starts with Ugly finding his way into a cottage whose 2 residents Queenie (The ‘Mature’ house Cat – Played by Maureen Rogers) and Lowbutt (The domesticated Chicken, played by Angie Smith) sing about how it takes ‘All sorts’ to make the world go around, but they didn’t want them there! Once again causing giggles from the audience. The show finishes with Mother Duck Ida (played by Andrea Whiting) finding her ‘Duckling’ whose has turned his grey coat into a glorious suit of white.
If you were unlucky enough to miss the show, which received standing ovations from the audience, shame on you. Honk! which was directed by Jeannie Kinkaid was indeed another feather in the cap of the GTC. Ensure you book your tickets early next time!