Honk The Musical Four Stars ****

Hatching just in time for Easter this chirpy 20th Anniversary production of ‘Honk!’ guarantees to bring the spring back in into your step.

‘Honk’ is a musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story ‘The Ugly Duckling.’ Andersen described himself as ‘a tall, ugly boy with a big nose and big feet’, and was a victim of bullying. Writing duo Anthony Drewe and George Stiles, wrote ‘Honk!’ partly in response to the school bullying of Drewe’s young mixed–race nephews. Drewe hope’s that through ‘Honk!’s message of tolerance, ” maybe one day this vicious cycle will be broken, then we will all have something to quack about.”
Stiles and Drewe were part of the creative team responsible for the 2004 hit stage metamorphosis of Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins.’ The original score of the current smash hit musical ‘Half A Sixpence,’ also features seven equally worthy additional songs by the writing duo. They are also the composers for this Summer’s production of ‘The Wind in the Willows’, at the London Palladium.

‘Honk!’ is set on a farm and tells the story of Ugly, a cygnet whose egg falls into a duck nest and is mistaken for being an ugly duckling. Ugly gets picked on by the other farmyard animals and is rejected by everyone except his adoptive duckling mother Ida. The plucky little bird embarks on an adventure of self-discovery across the marsh, and learns that being different is not such a bad thing after all.

‘Honk!’ is produced by Dot By Dot Productions who bring big stories to life on a small scale using music, magic and puppetry. The energetic young cast compliment each other perfectly in their many multi-playing roles. Liam Vincent-Kilbride is adorable as the lost little ‘duckling,’ Ellie Nunn convincing as his protective adoptive mother, and Sam Sugarman suitably cunning as the cat. Emily Bestow’s set in a delight, and direction by Andy Room is continually inventive. The only flaw in the evening being the excessive volume of the band which often drowned out both the lyrics and the performers.

Honk! is the perfect Easter treat for both adults and children to flock to alike.

Review by Oliver Valentine.

‘HONK THE MUSICAL’ plays until Saturday April 22nd, 2017. www.uniontheatre.biz Tel: 0207 261 9876 229. Union Theatre, Union St, London SE1 0LR

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