Honk!, Lost Theatre

23 Sep

Honk! is a musical by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe and is an adaption of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling. It is produced by Neil-Michael Marriott and plays at the Lost Theatre in Vauxhall. In 2000 it won an Olivier Award for Best Musical. As some other Stiles & Drewe musicals, Honk! is primarily aimed at children, but is so cleverly written that it appeals to all generations.

In this version, the Ugly Duckling is constantly teased by the other farmyard animals and is then lured away by a cat. He manages to escape and tries to get back to his mother, who was the only one who loved him despite of him being “different to the rest”. In the end he falls in love, is reunited with his mother and returns to the farmyard as a beautiful swan. So a typical fairy tale ending.

There are some lovely songs in the musical, my favourite is “Different”, which Ugly sings. It’s all about the fact that there is nothing wrong with being different, acceptance and tolerance. “Every Tear A Mother Cries”, sung by Ugly’s mother after he disappears is lovely too, as are the ensemble numbers, especially “A Poultry Tale”, “Hold Your Head Up High (Reprise)” and “Look At Him (Reprise).

The set is very simple as are the costumes. I loved the duck pond, though I felt that it looked all a bit unfinished. But sets and costumes are generally the least important factor for me. It leaves more room for imagination, but I also feel that a great production doesn’t need a fancy set/costumes to work. And Honk! in general and this production definitely don’t!

Once again, the cast is incredibly strong. First and foremost, this is true for Andrew Newton who plays Ugly. He’s got a nice voice and his Ugly was everything you’d imagine it to be and more. As I said before, “Different” was the highlight of the show for me.

Rhiannon Rose as his mother was incredible too. Wonderful voice and acting. The same is true for the other cast members Tobias James (Cat), Thomas Hewitt, Danielle Harding, Charlie England, Clare Reilly, Lindsay Richardson, Chris Carroll, Siobhan McConnon, Rachel Barker, Victoria Boden, Justine Lee, Holly Tyler and Christina Cuttell.

My only criticism is the sound. I found it very difficult to understand the lyrics sometimes, especially during ensemble numbers, because the actors were completely drowned out by the orchestra. It was particularly annoying because they were using microphones anyway, but I guess if that’s the only negative thing about the production it’s not too bad. I thoroughly enjoyed the show despite of it, it just bugged me.

Honk! finishes its run on 1 October. I’d definitely recommend it to everyone and bring your kids/friends/parents/grandparents along, too. It’s such a charming little show that will make you smile. Not one to be missed!

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