Whitworth’s production tells story of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ at downtown venue
by Meghan Dellinger
While you may have all heard the story “The Ugly Duckling” before, it’s safe to say you’ve probably never seen the tale come to life on the stage.
Now you (and your parents) can.
Whitworth will be staging “Honk! A Musical Tale of The Ugly Duckling,” starting Parent’s Weekend, at the Bing Crosby Theater.
Most of the play follows the original storyline of the book “The Ugly Duckling,” with a few modern-day twists. “Honk!” was written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who have produced other famous shows such as “Mary Poppins” and “Peter Pan”.
Senior Kirsten Mullen, a vocal performance major, plays Ida, the protective and loving mother of the Ugly Duckling, played by senior Sean Stoudt.
“She is the only person who is supporting Ugly from the very beginning,” Mullen said. “She tries to make everyone see he isn’t different.”
Assistant professor of theatre Brooke Kiener is directing the play.
“I love everything about this musical. I love the music, I love the humor, I love the theatricality of it,” Kiener said. “I also love the message. The main character is strong in the face of adversity, and he discovers he is proud of being different from the rest of the flock.”
Kiener said instead of the play being staged in Cowles Auditorium like usual, the play was moved to the Bing Crosby Theater last spring. Academic Affairs came to her and said the U.S. senate debate conflicted with the musical’s show date, and thought they might want to look into having it at another venue.
“We thought it was worth looking into,” she said. “The Bing sort of immediately rose to the top of the list in places we could work in. [Cowles] is not actually a theater, and the opportunity to work in an actual theater is exciting.”
Kiener said more than 50 students have put time and effort into helping put this play together.
“There are the 12 members of the cast. We also have four musicians,” Kiener said. “And we have 19 sort of crew members who are working on the set and helping to make costumes.”
Many of the actors play multiple roles in the musical. Senior Preston Loomer, a theatre major, plays Drake, the father of Ugly, and Greylag, a goose captain who helps Ugly while he is lost.
“[One difficulty] was really solidifying the characters as separate from each other,” he said.
The music in the play was directed by associate professor of music Ben Brody. Aaron Dyszelski, an assistant professor of theatre, designed the sets and costumes for “Honk!”
John Hofland, former chair of the theatre department at Gonzaga University, is the lighting director.
There will be no fur or feathers on the costumes, Kiener said.
“Even though the characters are animals, we have costumed them in human clothing,” she said. “But the textures, colors and patterns indicate the various kinds of birds and other animals in the show. It’s a much more creative way of approaching costuming for this show.”
Songs in the production include “The Joy of Motherhood,” “Look at Him,” “Different,” “Every Tear a Mother Cries,” and “Warts and All”.
Mullen said she really enjoys playing Ida, as she gets to sing some great songs in the play.
“At the beginning of the show, I sing like five songs in a row,” she said. “My favorite song is the finale of act one. Sean and I are both singing about how we miss each other, but we can’t see each other.”
Many of the actors are studying theatre, music, or something similar, and their seriousness about their studies shows through in the professionality of their performances. Loomer said he chose to study theater because he’s always been drawn to it, even as a child.
“My parents were both involved in [theatre],” he said. “It’s just somewhere I feel comfortable, more than in other places.”
Mullen said she encourages everyone to come see the play.
“I know it’s weird [with the play] being downtown,” she said. “But we worked so hard on it, it would be a shame to have no one come to see it.”
“Honk!” will be showing on Oct. 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 20 and 21 at 2 p.m. The musical will be at the Bing Crosby Theater, located at 901 W. Sprague Ave. General admission is $9, and admission for students and senior citizens is $7.
Contact Meghan Dellinger at email@example.com.
Note: A correction has been made in this story in regards to the showing dates from the print story. The Oct. 18 showing has been canceled due to a scheduling conflict.