Honk! JR is an award-winning musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale The Ugly Duckling, incorporating a message of tolerance. The book and lyrics are by Anthony Drewe and the music is by George Stiles (famed British songwriting duo). The story takes place in a rural farmland setting and features Ugly – a swan hatchling who is mistaken as an ugly duckling upon falling into a mother duck’s nest. Ugly looks quite different from his darling brothers and sisters, and animals on the farm are quick to point this out. Made to feel rather foul about himself, Ugly sets out on an adventure of self-discovery, all the while unknowingly outwitting a hungry Cat. Along the way, he meets a whole flock of unique characters and finds out that being different is not a bad thing to be.
This NBCT production is performed by the StageHands youth theatre company consisting of actors ages 8 through 18. First-time NBCT stage director, Michelle Roys, is at the helm, yet she is no stranger to The Athens main stage. Roys has been in numerous productions at NBCT including her high-flying role as Mary Poppins several seasons ago. Having a reputation as a skilled and disciplined actress/singer, and one who works well with kids NBCT’s executive director, Michael Tahaney, was confident Roys was the right fit for directing Honk! JR when he offered her the challenge. While attracted to the project, she was admittedly unsure she had all the skills necessary to direct. She has since proven she does. “Michelle is knocking it out of the park…” reports Tahaney. He continues, “Her leadership is clear and she holds the young performers accountable to very high expectations. She directs with a steady, gentle kindness that applies a distinctly positive atmosphere throughout the rehearsal spaces.” Creating live theatre is a collaboration among actors, creative teams, and crews which is why it has long been a valuable component of any community.
Theatre reinforces that everyone depends on each other, and the presence of all involved is essential to the success of the cooperative venture. This is an especially relevant lesson for today’s youth following years of Covid pandemic shutdowns that withheld opportunities for them to socialize with peers and adults face-to-face. An experience such as this for them is invaluable in many ways. But theatre does not really happen until an audience is present. NBCT hopes parents, grandparents, and/or guardians will bring their special young someone(s) to the theatre to see Honk! JR. Even if a child is coming to the show as part of a school-based field trip, sharing a unique experience that includes the adults in their lives they trust and admire most will make lasting memories to be sure.
NBCT thanks Show Sponsor, Coastal Children’s Clinic, for supporting the arts in eastern North Carolina.
Season performances run weekends from March 24 through April 2.
This is a G-rated family-friendly event.
Tickets and Information: newberncivictheatre.org
By Michael Tahaney