Madrona Children’s Theater this week presents the story of The Ugly Duckling, with a twist — Honk! The Musical. The spring musical will premiere Thursday, March 21 and run through Sunday, March 24 at the Mountlake Terrace High School Theatre. This year’s cast will feature 71 Madrona 4th-8th graders.
Honk! The Musical is a musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling. Set on a barn in the countryside, the story features Ugly — a baby swan who is mistaken for a duckling after falling into duck Ida’s nest. Ugly is rejected and teased by everyone except his duck mother, a sly tomcat and other barnyard characters. The story is a message of tolerance that director Dorothy Rosenthal Pierce said the students could easily relate to.
“These are lessons for kids who not one of them feels like they fit in,” she said. “It speaks to them on such a uniquely individual level.”
The book and lyrics that the musical features were written by Anthony Drewe and music was composed by George Styles. The musical debuted at London’s West End in 1999 and won the 2000 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical.
The production will run six shows — Thursday-Sunday — with two casts playing three shows each. Performances from Madrona’s deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students will be featured in two shows — Thursday’s premiere and Sunday’s matinee. Those shows will also be ASL interpreted. While located in Edmonds, Madrona School includes students from across the Edmonds School District.
Madrona 8th graders Sage Jennings and Sydney Somers will alternate the role of Ida. Jennings — who has participated in a previous production of Honk! — said she tried to portray the role in a way that is her own.
“I personally tried to make a more drastic change between Ida’s tender side and her sassy side,” she said. “I tried to make it drastically clear how she’s different with different people.”
Somers said that although she and Jennings will be playing the same role, audiences can expect to see them bring their own styles to Ida.
“I think Sage shows the more tender side of Ida, whereas I — most of the time — default to the more stubborn and determined side,” she said.
The role of Ugly will be played by Somers’ twin brother Jordan, a Madrona 8th grader.
“It’s an absolutely beautiful story with the kindest and sweetest soul,” Pierce said. “Ugly’s journey is really beautiful.”
For more than 25 years, Madrona K-8 has produced a full-scale musical for multiple performances for a live audience. The Madrona students make up the cast and stage crew, create art, act as ushers, and promote ticket sales. A professional director, music director Mark Press and live music will work alongside the students to put on a show audiences will not forget. Proceeds from the show go back to the program and school community. In addition to serving as music director, Press founded the Madrona Children’s Theatre.
“For many of these children this may be the only opportunity to participate in theater during their academic lives,” he said. “We feel the benefits of this experience to the students are many and lasting.”
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children — 14 and under — and are available here. Reserve seats in the American Sign Language (ASL) or handicapped sections by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Honk! The Musical
Thursday, March 21, 7 p.m. (DHH)
Friday, March 22, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 23, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 24, 2 p.m. (DHH) and 6 p.m.
Mountlake Terrace High School Auditorium Theatre
21801 44th Ave. W.
— Story and photos by Cody Sexton