Honk! – review

Pamela Raith Photography_Honk_018Curve Young Company presents

Music by George Stiles
Book & Lyrics by Anthony Drewe
based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling

directed by Tim Ford

Leicester loves musicals, according to Curve’s Chief executive Fiona Allan as the appointment of the theatre’s new Artistic Director Nikolai Foster was announced last week.

And, with perfect timing, Curve Young Company have tackled Honk!, a delightful, family-friendly musical romp around the farmyard and yet another successful enterprise by the fledgling performers at Curve Young Company. But, just because the performers’ ages range between twelve and twenty six doesn’t mean the quality of the production is compromised; yes, some of the dance moves could have been crisper and more together, there is a tendency to crowd the stage on occasion but vocally, the cast are impeccable – or should that be impeckable to keep in tune with the multitude of amusing poultry-related puns and wordplay.

Honk!, first performed in 1993 and written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, won an Olivier for Best Musical in 2000. Taking master story-teller Hans Christian Andersen’s universally known tale The Ugly Duckling as its theme, Honk! addresses an important message: it shouldn’t matter if you appear to be different to be accepted.

Pamela Raith Photography_Honk_011Keir Barradell makes an endearing Ugly, the duckling/cygnet/swan: wide-eyed and naive, forced to leave the safety of the farmyard but desperate to return to his mother Ida, the only one who ever accepted him as he is – awww. Lola McKinnon is outstanding as Ida, bringing the whole story together with her exceptional voice and heartrending pleas of ‘he’s my son and I love him’ – you can’t argue with a mother’s love.

Chris McCann’s Cat is suave and slinky and a deliciously naughty kitty. Greylag and Dot and their gaggle of geese in the WW2 inspired Wild Goose Chase has something for everyone and special mentions also to Lowbutt (Jade Pearce), Queenie (Laura Vyas) and Bullfrog (Ellena Taylor), their comic timing and physicality are impressive.

Al Parkinson’s set design is simple, and thus effective and Connie Watson clearly had a lot of fun with costumes – garishly colourful and quite a few feathers. It is a shame Ugly’s mic malfunctioned midway through but the cast’s professional outlook didn’t falter.

Pamela Raith Photography_Honk_053And that sums it up really; for a group of young actors, dancers, musicians and theatre practitioners of varying levels of experience this is an assured, confident cast and crew. Great work by director Tim Ford for getting such impressive performances out of his company.

With catchy songs and great lyrics, Honk! is a hoot and (probably) the most feather-fuelled fun the whole family will have at the theatre.

Honk! is at Curve from 27 Jun – 5 July

Images by Pamela Raith Photography

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