Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"Honk!," the award-winning musical version of the "Ugly Duckling" story, opens the Fairmont State Town & Gown Summer Theatre season on Friday, June 10.

Performances will be June 10-11 and 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. and June 12 at 2 p.m. in the Wallman Hall Theatre. For tickets, call the Box Office at (304) 367-4240.

The cast of 37, under the direction of Dr. Francene Kirk, includes many faces familiar to Town & Gown and Masquers theatre audiences, with some new additions. Among the major characters are Jeffery Carder as Ugly, Steve McElroy as Cat, Gina Johnson as Ida, Shawn Dunn as Drake, Kathy Dunn as Lowbutt, John Fallon as Greylag, Katie Haines as Dot, William Mick as Turkey, Jason Young as Bullfrog, Christian Cox as Jay Bird, Janice Gerlach as Grace, Kelsey Corder as Snowy and Breigha Mugnano as Pinkfoot. Dr. Stephen Johnson serves as musical director and Sarah Grumblatt serves as choreographer.

The show, conceived and executed by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, opened at the Watermill Theatre in 1993, and was originally called "The Ugly Duckling, or The Aesthetically Challenged Farmyard Fowl." In 1997, the play opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, England, directed by Julia McKenzie. The RNT production toured the United Kingdom in 2001, a year after winning the prestigious Laurence Olivier FNB Award. "Honk!" also won the Elliott Norton Award in the U.S.

The theme of the production is the acceptance of others who may appear different for whatever reason.

"George and I conceived 'Honk!' as a family entertainment that would be fun for all ages -- as much about people as it is about ducks," Drewe writes. "The main message that we wanted the audience to go away with was that being different is OK, it is something to be welcomed, embraced and celebrated rather than feared, misunderstood or persecuted."