‘Honk!’ production delivers laughs, food for thought

Who knew life on the farm could be so complicated — or funny?

Parental squabbles, sibling rivalry and the struggle to be accepted are just a few of the issues explored in the Stuttgart Theatre Center’s first production of “Honk! The Musical.”

That’s not to say watching the play was difficult, however. In fact, the show is three-hour treat for children and parents alike.

The talented cast brings animals to life in the witty, British version of the traditional “Ugly Duckling” story. Mother duck Ida’s  eggs hatch, but one is different. “Ugly” doesn’t fit in with his goofy looks and loud honking, so he is shunned on the farm — until he becomes a beautiful swan.

The plot allowed director Richard Roberts and choreographer Barb Heidt to get creative with the costuming and dancing. The plaid-wearing chickens delight audiences by pecking the air as they talk, and a troop of “froglets” in tuxedos perform a jazz number. 

All of the characters, including the duck family — sporting yellow clogs and a Scottish brogue — are so well-played that the lines between being an audience member and becoming part of the story are blurred.

Stefano Mileci’s portrayal of “The Cat,” the barnyard fiend with a Latin flair and a passion for duck l’orange, is a comedy act in itself
“You forgot that you were watching people; you thought that you were watching animals,” said Jan Lowry, a Patch Elementary School teacher during her second viewing of the show.    

Director Roberts does an excellent job of bringing the audience into the scene, especially during the snowstorm, when a disco ball shines “snowflakes” around the entire theater.

While the moral of the story — “It’s okay to be different” — is simple, the relationships between characters are more complex.

“I think people are surprised when they see it,” said Roberts. “They think it’s a children’s [story], but there’s sort of an adult level that goes on, too.”
Lori Parsons’ portrayal of Ida, the mother duck, is top-notch. Adults will laugh when she tries to get Drake, her husband, to take a turn sitting on the eggs, and then cry with her, as she laments losing her son.

 Evan Stevens, 16, is also a notable performer as “Ugly,” the awkward “duck” who becomes a swan. Even as a pubescent ball of feathers, Stevens’ singing is strong, and his acting reveals his understanding of the character and point of the show.
“I think it explains something that’s very deep and emotional, but it explains it in a fun way,” he said.

This weekend is the show’s final run. Performances are Jan. 15-16 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 17 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for students.

For more information, or to reserve tickets, call 421-3258/3055/civ. 0711-729-3258/3055.