Raise the Curtain for Honk!

By Alexandra Margelu, Hannah Jones and Madison Nualart
APR 3, 2019

As spring finally arrived, so did St. Thomas Aquinas High School’s (STA) annual musical. STA’s 2019 musical Honk! hatched a production that audience members truly enjoyed.

STA actors performing on stage.

In 1993, the original version of Honk! premiered in England as a musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s literary classic The Ugly Duckling. The script and lyrics were created by Anthony Drewe and the music was composed by George Stiles. The production won the Olivier Award for Best Musical in 2000.

In the STA production, sophomore Michael Ryder starred in the lead role as Ugly, freshman Briana Braun played Ida, the mother duck, and sophomore James Lawlor played the sly, hungry tomcat. The story begins with the birth of Ugly, who is presumed to be a duckling. All the barnyard animals, as well as his family members, bully him because of his appearance. Only his mother Ida accepts him. However, one of the animals, Cat, plots to befriend Ugly and lures him away from his family with the intention of eating him. A chance distraction gives Ugly the opportunity to escape from Cat. The rest of the play centers around Ugly and his mother trying to find one another. During Ugly’s journey he makes friends and learns valuable life lessons.

STA actors dancing on stage.

Most theater lines and lyrics contain a fragment of the human condition. Honk! conveys a message about the struggles of dealing with bullies and learning to stand up for individuality. STA Director of Drama Mr. Jerry Seeger said “ [Ugly] is different but he’s searching for his identity. He’s searching for who he is and how he fits into the world and wants to be embraced for who he is.” Mr. Seeger chose this musical to present a play that high school students could easily relate to. For this reason, Honk! was the perfect choice.

Hours of rehearsals prepared the actors for the production of Honk! Students had to, as Mr. Seeger said, “Put in the hard work so you can reap the benefits later.” Auditions for the musical took place in September while the theater department was preparing for the Fall play, Harvey. The rehearsals for Honk! began in October. The cast assembled after school for two and a half hours every day, as well as occasionally on weekends. Eventually, “fun week” started, which is when the cast and crew had to rehearse every day from 3:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. They spent their time cramming lines, working on choreography, learning songs and harmonies, and perfecting the stage presence for opening night. The sound and light crew, who also attended the seven-hour rehearsals to work on placing the cast’s microphones and checking the timing for the spotlight. Mr. Seeger said “without the behind-the-scene people, theater cannot happen.” The rehearsals provided time for both cast and crew to make new friends and memories. Sophomore Madison Mendez said that her favorite experience was “Getting closer to the seniors and getting to know all the freshmen … be more embedded into the family”

Mr. Jerry Seeger, Chorale Director Mrs. Wanda Drozdovitch, and Dance Director Mrs. Maria Virginio trained the cast to perfection. Michael Ryder told Raider Review, “My favorite experience would be … just seeing everything in the end culminate to full production and just be on stage.” With Honk!’s final curtain call, this production can be added to the list of the many amazing musicals STA has staged.

Photos: Ms. Dee Layman