Fowl Play Garners Great Review
Hans Christian Anderson is well known the world over for his fairy tales. Movies have been made of numerous of his tales including The Little Mermaid, Frozen, Thumbelina and The Red Shoes. Although his short stories, such as The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Princess and the Pea and The Little Match Girl, are children’s classics, few are as well remembered as The Ugly Duckling. This weekend, Saturday October 19th, there are two shows available of a charming musical adaptation of this story, entitled Honk. It will be performed at the UCC Church in Millis at 1 PM and 3 PM, at 142 Exchange St.
Appropriately, the show begins with the song, “A Poultry Tale.” Drake, the father duck, as played by Saachi Chandrakant, confers with Turkey, a male gobbler, as played by Julia Furey. Next to appear are Abigail Halstead as Henrietta, Charlotte Wolfstitch as Maureen and Caroline Monteith as Ida, the mother duck. Caroline has a lovely singing voice and projects beautifully. As mother duck she is sitting on a nest of eggs, cleverly constructed behind her as tall and crackable paper forms. But when the chicks peck their way out, all are adorable in yellow T shirts and yellow hats, except for one. He arrives late, and is all grey and black, and worst of all can only say, “Honk!” Ugly, as he is nicknamed by the other chicks, is played ably by Sophie Rickman. She carries the role of the plucky but rejected bird well. Ida, the mother, loves Ugly anyway and sings of accepting him in “Different”, and teaches him to swim in “Hold Your Head Up.” Drake, the father, however, will not accept Ugly. Another strong singer is Mia McGann, who plays the villain, the Cat. She bewitches Ugly and takes him to her lair where a sign humorously proclaims “365 Ways To Cook Poultry.” The Cat and her kittens warble enticingly about playing with their food, while Ugly naively sings along. He is inadvertently saved by two nearby children who are playing – what else – Duck, Duck, Goose. Ida then charms the audience with the plaintive “Every Tear A Mother Cries” while looking desperately for her missing offspring. A phalanx of geese is then assembled to go off on a wild goose chase to save the ugly duckling.
Fear not, as the second act delivers a happy ending as Ugly then amazes all by being transformed into a swan during a blizzard. This show has a powerful message about being different and how this can be positive. There are a number of unique characters who help Ugly along his journey, including a mother swan played by Allyson Forbes in a dazzling white costume that rivals those of the ballerinas in Swan Lake. A catchy song and dance routine is performed by Bullfrog (Ruby O’Brien) who is also a stand up comedian. Here too the costume impresses: a green tuxedo, flashy green pants and a sparkly St. Patrick’s Day green hat. Ruby brings a fresh layer of humor to the story, and sings, too. Anni Stevens delivers a sweet solo in a pretty ball gown during the blizzard. The lower grades impress with their geese helmets like WWI bombers and the froglet outfits with headpieces and eyeballs. All the women characters share a sixties look with green polka dot dresses and cute heels.
This is an uplifting show that will brighten any day. The teenagers both have significant parts, and also clearly are there as helpers for the younger ones. The cooperation among the ages is phenomenal. As always, Joanne Hines provides the sparkling musical accompaniment with Joe Duda, and Roberta Weiner directs with a careful eye and a full heart. Come and be moved by this cast of sixty-five plus in an enchanting story.