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HONK! is a musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Duckling", written by Anthony Drewe, music by George Stiles. First performed at The Watermill Theatre in England in 1993, the musical went on to West End, where, in 2000, it won the 2000 Olivier Award for Best Musical.
The music for this show is relatively unique in that most of the characters can be played/sung by a male or female actor, and within a very comfortable range for most people. Anything above a Soprano 2 or Baritone range is generally optional within chorus numbers.
The essential message of the story is tolerance, and being yourself, although this is somewhat subverted by the fact that Ugly is immediately beloved by the rest of the duckyard as soon as he becomes remotely attractive.
On The Farm
- Ugly: The Ugly Duckling himself, often portrayed as a nerdy kid with a heart of gold. Tenor
- Ida: Ugly's mother and his stalwart defender, she will stop at nothing to keep him safe and sound. Mezzo/Alto
- Drake: Ugly's somewhat childish and irresponsible father, who advocates just letting it go when Ugly wanders off. What a dad. Tenor 2
- The Cat**: A sly, conniving tom who relentlessly goes after the ducklings and Ugly throughout the play. Tenor
- Grace: The duchess of the duckyard, she has a red band of cloth around her leg to signify that she is "looked up to by both men and animals." Soprano
- Maureen: The friendly, neighborly moorhen, and Ida's best friend. Mezzo/Soprano
- Turkey**: A stereotypical nasty headmaster with a pathological fear of the word "Christmas" (Thanksgiving, in the American version). Baritone
- Henrietta: A gossippy, nosy hen. Mezzo Something
- Ducklings: Billy, Beaky, Downy, and Fluff, Ugly's siblings. Generally portrayed as bratty, trendy little rugrats. Rugducks. Whatever. Gender-negotiable, but originally 3 girls and a boy. Often the Ducklings will be played by children, while Ugly is played by an older actor in order to make the size difference evident (as well as acknowledging the ability of an older actor to tackle Ugly's gigantic part). Vocally negotiable - females Mezzo, Males Tenor
Along the Road - Much of the play involves Ugly wandering, lost, and the characters he meets along the way. (In Chronological Order)
- Greylag: A pompous, blustery goose, based on a stereotypical WWII Air Force commander. Absent-minded, full of himself, and as British as you can make him, please. Bass
- Dot: Greylag's gentle, understanding wife and second-in-command. Her dialogue places her as a flight attendant, but it is clear that she holds a senior rank in the squadron. Mezzo/Soprano
- Queenie*: A very domesticated cat with a little bit of a saucy streak, as becomes evident when the Cat appears, looking for Ugly. Soprano
- Lowbutt*: Queenie's BFF, a chubby, domesticated chicken. She and Queenie are both rather haughty characters, and disdain the "great outdoors." Mezzo/Alto
- Penny: The Love Interest, a beautiful young swan Ugly first finds tangled up in fishing line. Mezzo/Soprano
- Bullfrog: A stereotypically corny but charismatic comedian, similar to the Warner Brothers frog. The Bullfrog appears just after Ugly has met Penny, and is feeling a bit gloomy about his looks, and attempts to cheer Ugly up by telling him that "One day, 'ugly' will be in." Bass/Baritone
- Froglets: The Bullfrog's fanbase, generally played by the same actors as the Ducklings.
- Jay Bird: The smarmy TV personality of "America's Most Feathered." Alternately known as "Jack Daw" of "Birdwatch UK" in the British version. Can also be known as "Maggie Pie" if played by a woman. Chorus
- Barnacles, Snowy, & Pinkfoot: Members of the Goose Squadron, and a little bit, er, dim. Can be any gender, though Barnacles is usually male, while Snowy and Pinkfoot are an alto and a soprano, respectively. Act as a peanut gallery to Greylag, chiming in at inappropriate times with goofy puns and mockery. Chorus
- Father Swan, Mother Swan, & Bewick: Penny's family, all very sleek and elegant, to contrast with Ugly. Chorus
- Farmer(voice only): Traps Ugly in a net for dinner. Chorus
- Old Woman*(voice only): Friend to Queenie and Lowbutt. Chorus
- * Do not appear in Honk! Jr.
- ** May be male or female in Honk! Jr. If so, Alto
- Armed Farces: The goose squad
- Bad Girl Song: "Together"
- Battle Couple - Dot and Greylag, although one never actually sees them fighting.
- Beautiful All Along: Duh.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The Cat pretends to be Ugly's friend when no one else will, all as a ruse to get close enough to eat him. Ugly is originally naive enough to believe this, although he wisens up towards the end of Act One.
- Bumbling Dad: Drake is basically the avian version of a sitcom father.
- Cats Are Mean: Played straight with The Cat, but averted with Queenie
- Disney Death: Ugly appears to have been frozen alive in the blizzard towards the end of Act Two. Of course, he's actually alive and well.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Ugly, immediately before "Warts And All"
- Easily Forgiven: Ugly suffers all kinds of verbal and psychological abuse as a child, and when he returns . . . he just forgives them all.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Grace
- I Will Find You: When Ugly goes missing, Ida soon sets off on a journey to locate him.
- Kids Are Cruel: As exemplified by Ugly's siblings.
- Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: "Poultry Tale," "Look At Him," both the first and the reprise.
- Messianic Archetype: When Ugly is frozen in a block of ice, and somehow survives, coming back to the duckyard and preaching a message of forgiveness.
- Missing Mom: For most of the show, Ida is never with Ugly.... she tries though!
- Modern Major-General/Old Soldier: Greylag.
- Princess Classic: Although she's absent for most of the play, Penny is a perfect example. Beautiful, kind to those in need, and conveniently rescuable.
- Sound Off: "Wild Goose Chase"
- The Freaky One At The End: Usually choreographed this way.
- Villain Song: "Play With Your Food"
- Unnamed Parent: Father and Mother Swan
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: While Ugly never specifically wishes for his father's love, he clearly includes Drake in his wish to be accepted by the duckyard.
- What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?: All of the Cat's dialogue is pretty much textbook Stranger Danger.
- That, and some of the humor in "Together," as well as Ida's use of the word "Dumbcluck," which, if you say it out loud.... well.