‘Honk!’ cast members make a swan out of an ugly duckling

Erica Crist

Members of “Honk!” held one final run through, yesterday. The re-enactment of “The Ugly Duckling” will be preformed In Wright-Curtis Theatre Nov. 13, 2005.

Credit: Jason Hall

Early one spring morning, five ducklings hatch. Four of them say “quack” but the big, ugly one says “honk!”

“Oh my, this one is different,” its mother thought.

But she knew that different isn’t hateful, and different isn’t wrong, so she taught him how to swim with the other ducklings.

And the adventure of Ugly, a duckling who just doesn’t fit in, begins.

Presented by the School of Theatre and Dance, “Honk!” is a hilarious, feel-good play for adults and children alike.

“It’s written to appeal to all ages,” said Eric van Baars, the director and an assistant professor in the School of Theatre and Dance. “It’s a child-like tale in that it’s based on ‘The Ugly Duckling’ by Hans Christian Anderson, but it’s written in a very contemporary way.”

Humor, structure and lyrics of the songs are just a few aspects that give this play its dual appeal, van Baars said.

Ugly’s troubles all began when his egg accidentally fell into a duck’s nest, hatching him into a life of teasing and strange looks.

“My inspiration came from the lessons in life that I have learned,” said John M. Moauro, a junior musical theatre major who plays Ugly. “Nobody fits in! Everyone goes through that point in their life. They’re the fat kid, or they’re the ugly kid, or they’re the one who can’t sing. We all have been there so we can all relate to the character in that way.”

Young and naA_ve, Ugly is easily lured away from his loving mother by the scheming and hungry tomcat. But when Ugly tries to find his way back to the Sweet Water Farm, he gets completely lost for nearly a year.

On his journey outside the farmyard, Ugly meets a military-like flock of geese, a domesticated hen and a cat, a beautiful female swan and a wise bullfrog.

The bullfrog knows if someone can love him, even with his warts, then someone can love Ugly too. He tells Ugly to never give up hope and to believe in himself. After all, one day it might be cool to be ugly.

“He is the voice of wisdom in this show,” said Bryan Guffey, a senior musical theatre major who plays the bullfrog and the turkey. “He makes Ugly happy and makes him understand that out there somewhere, someone is going to love him.”

Confidence is the key thing Ugly, and anybody else feeling lost, needs to remember, van Baars said.

“Any student of Kent State, or even just a student of life, can relate,” he said.

Refreshed and motivated, Ugly again tries to find his way. In his travels, he comes to discover his true beauty and destiny.

“We want the character to transform. My favorite plays are always where you see people change before your eyes,” van Baars said.

Guffey said people should see the play because it will give faith to those people in the troubled times that we live in.

“It restores faith in the human spirit and the basic goodness of people,” he said. “People will be surprised at how much they laugh during this show.”

Contact performing arts correspondent Erica Crist at [email protected].