The SCERA's 'Honk!' is a delightful, touching tale

Published: Tuesday, March 25 2014 4:12 p.m. MDT

The ducklings, played (starting second from left) by Courtney Read, Aubrey Shaw, McKenna Orme, Sarah Carr and Kyle Vorkink, line up behind their mother, Ida, played by Sydney Frei, as Ugly, played by Caleb Gardner, looks on in "Honk! The Ugly Duckling Musical" at the SCERA Center for the Arts.

Mark A. Philbrick

"HONK! THE UGLY DUCKLING MUSICAL," directed by Kathryn Little; SCERA Center for the Arts Acting Up Company; now through March 29; 801-226-ARTS; running time 2 hours 20 minutes with one 15-minute intermission

OREM — The first clue is finding the name of "Honk! The Ugly Duckling Musical" spelled out in rubber duckies on the display board.

The second is in seeing a mother duck sitting patiently (or, to be accurate, quite impatiently) on the biggest duck eggs ever seen.

It all means there's a show coming that's quirky, funny and a little bit silly.

Add it all together — the bright costumes, the simple duckyard set, and the classic story of a swan egg gone astray — and you have a musical that tells a good story and entertains as well.

Director Kathryn Little has done a good job coordinating the numbers in the young cast and bringing out budding talent.

The leads, played by Caleb Gardner as Ugly and Sydney Frei as Ida, the mother duck, who searches for her lost child almost the entire show, do respectable jobs.

Dresden Holden Means, as the devious cat trying to have Ugly for lunch, and Ashley Garvin, as the friendly Bullfrog who sees the world as simply a giant playplace, are standouts.

So are the ducklings, played by Kyle Vorkink, Sarah Carr, Courtney Read, McKenna Orme and Aubrey Shaw. They tumble up against one another, cheeping, chirping and basically acting just like a little bunch of newly hatched birds with fluff for brains.

The geese, commanded by Jacob Donaldson as Greylag, swiftly fly in from the back of the room and plop onto the stage in a mass of grey and black, mimicking the flock behavior of such birds amazingly well.

The swans are graceful and beautiful, even when their roller skates threaten to undo their coasting.

The choreography is nicely done throughout the production. The cast members are disciplined. They know what they're doing and where they're going and they do it in character. The cats slink and preen. The frogs leap about.

The costuming supports the show with lots of orange feet and plenty of feathers and tails.

The only problems show up in the vocals. A couple of the signature songs are sung in the basement and come up pretty flat. The show is also a tad long, making it a long sit for young ones not taken with love songs.

But the singers are gutsy and sing everything through. The action is lively enough that it doesn't feel two hours long.

It's a feel-good story throughout and worth watching.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com

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