WCT tells one duckling’s tale in ‘Honk!’

The youth cast of Whidbey Children’s Theater’s production of “Honk!” will begin the shows run at 7:30 p.m. Friday. “Honk!” will be performed by a teen cast and youth cast that rotate performances. - Cynthia Woolbright
The youth cast of Whidbey Children’s Theater’s production of “Honk!” will begin the shows run at 7:30 p.m. Friday. “Honk!” will be performed by a teen cast and youth cast that rotate performances.
— image credit: Cynthia Woolbright

It’s a little strange, but there’s been a lot of quacking coming from Whidbey Children’s Theater. Artistic director Martha Murphy is proud to report that both Uglies have become close to their little ducklings. They’ve even been spotted following them around, winding through the dressing rooms and quacking about.

“They’ve really gotten close,” she said.

Don’t worry. No one’s quacking up. There’s nothing a fowl here. Whidbey Children’s Theater is preparing for its Friday opening of the musical “Honk!,” which will run at the WCT Mainstage Theater Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through May 24.

“Honk!” was written by British playwrights George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who through fun, laughter and wild ways crafted a message of tolerance and acceptance, Murphy said.

The musical tells the story of Ugly, whose odd, gawky looks incite laughs from friends and family. Lessons are learn when Ugly strays from the farm and is pursued by a cat. While Ugly finds his way through the wild world, he discovers he’s not such an ugly duck and finds his destiny, love and acceptance.

When Murphy saw a performance of “Honk!” last year, she knew the comic telling of the story of the ugly duckling was something audiences would get.

“It’s subject matter that we always teach the kids about — it’s important here on stage and in life, that there are no ugly ducklings, there are no stars,” Murphy said.

Whidbey Children’s Theater will present the show with a teen and youth cast of about 22 members each. The shows will alternate being presented by the casts, with the youth beginning the rotation Friday evenings.

Playing the role of Ugly and singing of how it “hurts to be different” are Gabe Harshman in the teen cast and Andrew Spencer in the youth cast. The role of Ida, Ugly’s mother is played by Samantha Yocco in the teen cast and Athena Michaelides in the youth cast. Ida and all the other mama birds swoon of the joys of motherhood. Ethan Berkley plays Drake, Ugly’s father in both casts. Julie McNeely in the teen cast and Lela Pigott in the youth cast portray the frisky Cat that heads out to the kitty cat snack shack to play with its food.

Rounding out the cast is a bull frog — played by Cameron Gray in the teen cast and Sam Turpin in the youth cast — who leads Ugly in a song about being loved, warts and all.

“Honk!” is directed by WCT artistic director Martha Murphy and is musically directed by Dana Linn, with choreography by Patricia Dierking and costumes by Jeannette Carpenter.

Along with rehearsing their speaking roles and practicing their singing cues, the young actors are being schooled in the fine art of accepting others’ differences.

“Learning to value other people’s differences is so important in all aspects of life,” Murphy said.

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