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REVIEW: Honk! a tale of perseverance, redemption

Honk! on stage - Nathan Carroll and company in Honk!. Directed and choreographed by David Connolly, the show features musical direction from Steve Thomas, set design by David Boechler, costume design by Rachel Berchtold and lighting design by Kaileigh Krysztofiak.   Photo by Hilary Gauld Camilleri

REVIEW: Honk! a tale of perseverance, redemption

by Caroline Sealey

ST. JACOBS - Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling is a timeless tale, written in 1843, that has been adapted for the stage as a high-energy, musical comedy.

Honk!, the version currently on stage at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, showcases a number of actors and actresses familiar to Drayton Entertainment show-goers.

 The setting is a duck yard where mother duck Ida is found patiently sitting on her nest filled to the brim with eggs. Sharing her concerns about raising a family with those passing by helps Ida pass the hours until the brood is hatched.

Four of the five eggs hatch on schedule, leaving a fifth unusually-coloured egg that shows no signs of producing a duckling. Comments, jokes and words of encouragement from the farm animals around the yard distract Ida from her worries.

The big day arrives with the occupant of the remaining egg announcing his birth to the farm with a loud “honk.” Because of his differing physical features and inability to speak “duck,” the new resident of the pond is named Ugly by the farm yard fowl and animals. Mother Ida sets out to protect him from the abuse directed his way by dwellers of the duck yard while Ugly begins the process of trying to find acceptance. Eventually, a wintertime transformation takes place and the beautiful swan’s spring return enables Ugly to finally join the swan family.

Each of the actresses and actors in the production of Honk! are repeat performers with Drayton Entertainment.

Kyle Blair portrays a vindictive tom cat who slithers around the stage in search of a meal. Blair’s strong singing voice and role playing captures the audience’s attention each time he is on stage.

Nathan Carroll previously played the role of Ugly in the production of Honk! at the age of 15. Thirteen years later he is back in the same role. Carroll deftly portrays the high-energy character of Ugly.

It is easy to see why Susan Gilmour was chosen to play the part of mother duck Ida. Gilmour was true to the mother role throughout the performance. With a  singing voice that could rival any, Gilmour was a pleasure to listen to throughout the show.

One of the many characters assuming multiple roles in Honk! was Aaron Walpole. Of the four characters performed, Walpole was outstanding as the turkey and the bullfrog. His facial expressions and animal imitations through sound and body interpretations did not go unnoticed by audience members.

The inclusion of two teams of children in the chorus no doubt kept director and choreographer David Connolly active behind the scenes.

Costume designer Rachel Berchtold compiled a variety of colourful costumes suited to the production. The deep orange leggings and footwear, and bright yellow upper wear on the ducklings along with ruffled white skirts on the chickens were simple but appropriate.

Anthony Drewe and George Stiles, the authors of Honk!, are a multi-award winning musical theatre writing partnership. The crew of this production has created a fun, energetic performance with attractive costumes and props, farm yard and family songs, plus a touch of humour appreciated by the adults in the crowd. The combined elements make the show entertaining for both adults and children.

This reviewer was blessed to have grandchildren along for the performance. When asked about their favourite parts, the answers came easily: when the ugly duckling hatched and the white, girl swan danced. They also pointed out each fowl and animal family wore the same colour so it was easy to tell which characters belonged to each family.

Honk! is on stage at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse  until Dec. 24. For more information or to purchase tickets call the box office at 1-855- 372-9866  or visit


December 8, 2017


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Community Guide Autumn 2018

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