Based on the story of the Ugly Duckling, ‘Honk!’ focuses on bullying and teasing.
Elementary and middle school students throughout Utah County are benefiting from morals taught in UVU’s production of the children’s musical, “Honk!” The show will be performed by the Black Box Repertory Company and tells the story of the “Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen.
The group brought their productions to schools in the local area for the past two years. Last year, their emphasis was on the tragedy of suicide, and this year their emphasis is on the fatalities of bullying and teasing.
“We wanted to find a piece that’s entertaining, fun, offers challenges for musical theatre students and deals with the issues of bullying,” said John Newman, producer of the show.
So far, the group has gone to two elementary schools and two middle schools and is also having a private school come to campus to see the production. Newman further explained that they continue to receive calls from schools asking them to come and perform their show.
Director Dave Tinney described the show as a very well disguised parable.
“It’s having an amazing effect so far,” Tinney said. “Teachers are really appreciative and kids are getting it. We have a full schedule for the rest of the semester.”
When “Honk!” is performed at schools, teachers are offered study guides to spark class discussion with students about the different scenarios in the show and how students should respond to bullying.
The show has added modern touches so the cast can better demonstrate forms of bullying to students. For example, a scene in the production shows ducks teasing the ugly duckling by pulling out their cell phones and taking pictures and sending text messages about him.
“This is one of the things happening in the schools, they are cyber bullying each other,” Newman said.
The costumes for each of the characters also play a huge role in the production.
“The frogs are like go-go girls in green dresses and the chicks are like Dorothy, Little Bo-Peep,” said Annette Goodrich, who stitches costumes for the theatre department.
“They have certain elements so they are supposed to look slightly animalish, but are still people.”
When asked which character was her favorite, Goodrich proudly held up a black leather jacket lined with curly soft fur. “The cat is one of my favorites. He’s got leather and a little bit of fur, he’s the bad kitty,” she said.
“ ‘Honk!’ is a great show for families – everyone can relate to different scenarios in the performance. We all at some point feel like we’re an ugly duckling. It takes us awhile to kind of find our place,” Newman said.