Have you ever felt different? Have you ever wondered why you’re not quite like everyone else? These questions are the focus of Ugly, a duckling unlike the others and the central character of “Honk! The Musical,” performed this weekend at Robert E. Lee High School.
“Honk! The Musical” is an adaptation of the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale of “The Ugly Duckling” by Anthony Drewe and George Stiles. Ida, a mother duck anxiously awaiting the hatching of her newest batch of eggs, is shocked when her largest egg produces an uncommon offspring. Ugly struggles to get along with his normal duckling siblings, and his bond with his mother is the only positive relationship he has. A mischievous cat preys on Ugly’s vulnerability and sways him to leave his mother to have lunch with him. Soon, Ugly is lost from his family and struggles to find his way home. Along the way he meets a boisterous frog, a commanding set of geese, and a beautiful swan. While Ida desperately searches for her son, Ugly learns more about himself and finds that he might be much more than a different duck.
The Lee ensemble was absolutely adorable and performed this unique show in a very special way. Each character brought something new to the show and made the performance a memorable one. The Lee ensemble worked with the resources well and created a strong show even with some challenges.
Nathanael Jones was cute and endearing as Ugly, combining a strong character voice and genuine physicality to embody the struggle of being different and searching for yourself. Johanna Olson’s beautiful and emotion-filled vocals were just right as maternal Ida. Jones and Olson complemented each other marvelously, creating a believable mother-son relationship.
Noah Holberton added a great deal of comedic spice to the show as The Cat, dazzling the audience with his sly movements and strong vocals. Victoria Murray adeptly portrayed a more sophisticated cat by the name of Queenie, charming the audience with her superior vocals and high energy.
Ugly’s “normal” duckling siblings Beaky (Elian Zarour), Billy (Vincent Zhao), Downy (Emily Kelly), and Fluff (Randi Chambers) were a terrific ensemble that developed well from innocent toddlers to boundary-pushing teenagers. The obvious chemistry and strong comedic abilities of each duckling created an entertaining and beloved group.
Costumes (Susan Swicegood) were the highlight of the show. Rather than using literal animal costumes, Swicegood created cohesive and bright pieces that allowed for the characters to symbolically represent the animals they were portraying. Another strong element of the show was the orchestra. With only thirteen total members, the Lee orchestra created the sound of an orchestra twice its size.
Lee High School’s production of “Honk!” was anything but ugly. The great cast and crew created a show that was definitely a swan.