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The Union Theatre's Honk! - rehearsal photos released

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

REHEARSAL photos have been released from the 20th anniversary production of Stiles & Drewe’s Honk! To view them, click here.

Previously Posted: This Easter, Honk! the musical returns to London in a brand-new, actor-musician egg-stravaganza. Filled with puppetry, magic, illusions and water guns, it runs at the Union Theatre from Wednesday, March 29 to Saturday, April 22, 2017.

This heartwarming reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling tells the story of Ugly, a plucky little bird who gets picked on by the other farmyard animals because he’s different. Pushed out of the flock, he embarks on an adventure across the marsh, meeting an array of characters who teach him that it takes all sorts to make a world, and that he is much more than just his fowl looks.

Surprising everyone – including its own composers Stiles and Drewe – by pipping The Lion King and Mamma Mia! to the post to win the 2000 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, Honk! has gone on to receive over 8,000 productions around the world, and is now returning to London in its 20th anniversary year.

Glaswegian Liam Vincent-Kilbride, who will be making his London stage debut as Ugly, trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has played Che in Evita and Mark Cohen in Rent. Joining him in Honk! are:

Emily Goad (Maureen/Henrietta/Penny/Lowbutt/Pinkfoot), whose previous roles include Rosemary in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Julie Jordan in Carousel.

Emma Jane Morton (Grace/Dot/Queenie/Mother Swann), whose credits include Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Theatre Royal Windsor) and Leader of the Pack (Waterloo East Theatre).

Ellie Nunn (Ida, Ugly’s mother), whose stage work includes Shakespeare in Love (West End) and Lady Windermere in Lady Windermere’s Fan (King’s Head Theatre).

Robert Pearce (Turkey/Bullfrog/Jack Daw), who was Col. Chambers in The Glenn Miller Story (Tommy Steele No1 UK tour) and Jitters in Hoods! The Musical, directed by Craig Revel-Horwood, at the Arts Theatre.

Leon Scott (Drake, Ugly’s father), who played Thor in Norseome (UK tour) and Montano in Othello (Shakespeare’s Globe).

Sam Sugarman (Cat), whose credits include Stephen Sondheim’s Road Show (Union Theatre) and Smee in Stiles & Drewe’s Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure.

Liam Vincent-Kilbride

Anthony Drewe said: “Hans Christian Andersen has been described as ‘a tall, ugly boy with a big nose and big feet, and when he grew up with a beautiful singing voice and a passion for the theatre he was cruelly teased and mocked by other children’. Sadly, cruel teasing and mocking is still prevalent today whenever someone is perceived as being ‘different’, and it’s not only children who perpetrate this injustice. Some truly ugly attitudes revealed themselves in the lead up to the Brexit vote, and recent events in the US have only served to shake our wonderfully diverse, multicultural society.

“When George and I wrote Honk! it was, in part, in response to the reaction that my young mixed–race nephews were receiving at school, because their skin was of a different colour. But bullying is not limited to racial diversity. A recent study in the UK found that 45% of 13 to 18 year-olds have experienced bullying by the age of 18, with the majority saying the primary reason was their physical appearance.

“It’s a sobering fact that 1 in 10 teenagers bullied at school have attempted to commit suicide, and at least half of the suicides among young people are related to bullying. Sadly, it is true that the victims of bullying are most likely to become bullies themselves. Maybe one day this vicious cycle will be broken, then we will all have something to quack about.

“I think the reason Honk! has enjoyed such success and been seen in so many productions around the world is that everyone can relate to the plight of an outsider trying to fit in – we have all felt it at some point in our lives. We wanted to write a musical about acceptance – a celebration of being different, where diversity is welcomed and embraced, and where everyone plays their own part in a multicultural community, albeit on a duck pond.”

Produced by Paul Virides and Lian Wilkinson for Dot By Dot Productions, Honk! is directed by Andy Room and designed by Anna Reid, with musical direction by Oli Rew, choreography by Lily Howkins and puppet design by Phoebe Hill.

Image (bottom): Liam Vincent-Kilbride.

A rare revival of Stephen Sondhiem and Arthur Laurent’s musical satire Anyone Can Whistle continues at the Union Theatre until March 11. It will be followed – from March 14 to March 25, 2017 – by the return of Threesome, Jamie Patterson’s comedy for adults.