Review: Honk! at New Mills Art Theatre

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Honk! is the musical version of The Ugly Duckling, a story by Hans Christian Andersen that we all know.

This musical was written by AnthonyDrew with music by George Stiles and the original production opened in Scarborough in 1997, although there was a try out version at the Watermill Theatre in 1993.

I was lucky enough to see both productions as well as the West End show in 1999 which won the Olivier Award for Best Musical in 2000.

Honk! is a musical with a message that all children should see, so they have an understanding that because someone is different on the outside doesn’t mean they are different on the inside and when you get to know them they are just like you and me; and if everyone was more tolerant the world would be a better place.

Honk! carries this message in a fun, colourful and visually pleasing way, so when I heard that New Mills Art Theatre was mounting this production I was intrigued and wanted to go and see what they had done - and I wasn’t disappointed!

I watched the dress rehearsal on Monday and from the moment I sat down I was impressed with the vibrant colours of the sets and the lighting was ace.

The show opened introducing all the characters in the farm yard, and with a cast of more than 30 the stage was full of these colourful performers from 5 years old to 60 - all full of energy. 
Staging, direction (Louise Coker) and choreography (Angie Ledwich-Draper), were fab – costumes too.

There were times when I thought I was watching a professional production, so I have to take my hat off to all involved.

I have to mention Collette Desborough (Ida) whose performance as the caring mum was wonderful.

Shaun Penton’s (Cat) performance was well executed and he spent the entire show trying to have Ugly for dinner! His methods were very entertaining.

And then there was Ugly, played by Dominic Dunn, the guy that nobody (except mum) wanted to know, who was pushed around and led astray by Cat - a strong performance and I really liked his vulnerability.

Highlighting these three characters shouldn’t take anything away from the whole cast - this is an ensemble piece in my mind and they all deserve credit, everyone supports everyone else - that’s what makes it work.

The numbers ‘Look at Him’ and ‘The Wild Goose Chase’ were outstanding - better than some of the professional productions I have seen.

This production carries the story line very well and you get carried along with this emotionally fun performance.

I saw a dress rehearsal with no audience and I was still immersed in the musical; imagine when there is an audience to play, how this will lift the production to another level. I think I will have to go again.

Honk! runs at New Mills Art Theatre from Tuesday, June 16, until Saturday, June 20, at 7.15pm with a Saturday matinee at 2.15pm. Tickets £9 and £7, contact 0333 666 3366 or www. newmillsarttheatre.ticketsource.co.uk