Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Honk"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Uncommon Theatre Company celebrates its 26th season with their winter show, "Honk", The Musical. "Honk" is based on the Hans Christian Anderson story of "The Ugly Duckling" and is about Ugly whose odd, gawky looks instantly incite prejudice from his family and neighbors. Separated from the farm and pursued by a hungry cat, Ugly must find his way back to his loving mother, Ida and father, Drake. Along his rollicking and harrowing journey, he is helped by a flock of geese, a domesticated hen who lives with the beautiful cat, Queenie and a warted frog. Ugly not only discovers his true beauty and glorious destiny, but also finds love with the gorgeous swan, Penny and acceptance in all its forms, delivering the message that their is beauty in everyone in the world. Director/choreographer Marianne Lonati casts 49 multitalented children in this witty and hilarious but also deeply moving musical. Musical director Shannon Manley makes their voices soar in their songs while David Coccia conducts the wonderful orchestra to accompany them. This version of "Honk" is splendid in every way and should not be missed, showing the talent of young people at their best.

Marianne's keen eye for blocking and dance steps is superb. She creates dance steps that everyone can handle from kindergarten to high school age. Her insight to all the characters is topnotch and her cast delivers the goods whether it is a comic or poignant moment. The multitude of costumes by Lisa Surrette are colorful and gorgeous and the set design by Cathy Corcoran is fantastic with backdrops and set pieces, painted beautifully. Stage manager Jessica Teixeira keeps things moving smoothly backstage all night long. (Congratulations to her and hubby, Michael on the upcoming birth of their first baby.) Michael designed the numerous lighting cues with sound design by Pat Dzierzak. The sound board operator, Zach Mills, is only a child but he does an excellent job with it. Producers Chris Lowey and Kathy Dowd provide their expertise to providing the group with an audience and raising the needed funds for their elaborate productions.

Mathieu Whitman, a high school senior, is phenomenal as Ugly. His acting, singing and dancing prowess soars in this role. Matt's tenor voice sells his many numbers including his solo "Different" which is a lovely ballad and an upbeat duet called "Hold Your Head Up High" where his mother teaches him how to swim. Katie Travers is fantastic as Ida, the mother. Her warm maternal charm comes through to the audience with her strong acting talent and with her topnotch singing voice which she uses in "The Joy of Motherhood" where she waits for her eggs to hatch and "Every Tear a Mother Cries" where she sets off to find Ugly, is a poignant ballad. Matt Timmons plays Drake, the father duck. He is a junior in high school but shows off his talent in this role. Matt sings solo lines in the opening number, "A Poultry Tale", in "Look at Him" and "The Collage". His portrayal as the cocky duck is very funny.

Their are many scene stealers in the show and one of the biggest is Brandon Grimes as the constantly hungry, menacing Cat who sings "Play with Your Food" and the sexy tango song, "Together" with another scene stealer. the sexy, Allicia Lawson as Queenie. He is fantastic as the Cat and she is hilarious in this song and in "It Takes All Kinds" with Mary Arruda as her best friend, Hen. Ricky Vita as the Frog is the fourth scene stealer in his comic song "Warts & All" with dancing frogs doing a kickline during it. Other funny moments are by Jeff Dietzel and Kelly Whelan as Greylag and Dot, the leaders of the geese. One of the most beautiful songs in the show is a soaring duet called "Now I've Seen You" between Matt Whitman and Alexandra Lonati as Ugly and Penny. Only an eighth grade student, Alex's gorgeous soprano voice is crystal clear and shows maturity beyond her years. Bravo to all 49 talented cast members who make this a show to be very proud of. Be sure to catch this stunning show before time runs out so you can see young people doing positive and uplifting theatrical endeavors.

"Honk" (13 -15 January)
Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Steet, FOXBORO MA
1 (508) 698-3098

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide