A Story of Acceptance and Self-Discovery

Musical Retelling of “The Ugly Duckling” Includes Students of All Ages

By: Kendall Shamus '20

This spring, Honk! the musical is coming to the Lora M. Robins Theatre from April 25-27. Join us for a beautiful retelling of the classic story “The Ugly Duckling.”

The Honk! cast is composed of 52 Lower, Middle, and Upper School cast members. The story follows Ida (played by Kendall Shamus ’20) as she goes in search of one of her sons, Ugly (played by Trey Solomon ’22), because he wandered away from the nest. Ugly is taunted and teased by his brothers and sisters as well as his father, Drake (played by Hayden Ashworth ’23) because his looks are different from the rest. As the story progresses, on Ugly’s journey away from the farm, he encounters some new animals such as Cat (played by Aayush Lalwaney ’19) and Bullfrog (played by Evan Dymon ’22). Each of these characters helps Ugly along his journey, whether it is traveling with him or helping him maintain a positive attitude.

There are many group numbers in the show, which allows actors of all ages to be featured. The show is full of fun with upbeat songs as well as ballads, but it also has an important message: to love those around us, no matter what they look like, because it is what is on the inside that matters most.

Fourth-grader Kaitlyn Freed is so excited to be in her second show on the Steward stage as a duckling. “I like when the ducklings hatch out of the eggs, and we get to do a tap dance!” Kaitlyn says.

Hayden Ashworth has been cast in all three of the mainstage shows this year. His character, Drake, is the father of the newly-hatched ducklings in the duckyard, as well as Ida’s husband. Drake gets to be comical and to spend time with the 11 other ducklings besides Ugly. “I’d say that my favorite part about playing Drake is how involved I get to be,” Hayden says. “There’s hardly a dull moment on or offstage; I always have to get my props ready, or get the Lower Schoolers together for their entrance, or make sure that I know what’s happening next. I’ve never had a role like Drake before (on and offstage), and it has pushed me out of my comfort zone in more ways than one. But that’s part of what makes it fun!”

In the title role of the Ugly Duckling, Trey Solomon waddles around the duckyard, and the other animals call him “Ugly.” Trey says, “One of my favorite things about the show is the relationship between Ida and Ugly. They both never give up on each other. It's a sweet connection that the playwrights included. Ida is the only person that Ugly can look forward to seeing. After thinking about it for some time, I think that the show’s message is not that you will eventually be beautiful, but that you already are on the inside. You just have to learn how to let everyone see that inner beauty.”

Honk! is a rather obscure show to be performed in a school, but the play’s director, Craig Smith says, “We were looking for a show that would be good for Lower through Upper School. We had some titles in mind, but they did not seem to fit the season. Honk! balanced out Chicago (the fall play), which was a flashy yet heavy show, along with Who am I This Time? and Other Conundrums of Love (the winter play), which was overly romantic. Honk! was perfect because it is light and frothy to fit into our season.”

The pattern has been that every other year for the spring musical, the theatre department puts on a kindergarten through twelfth-grade show, which is typically directed by Mr. Smith. He adds, “For me, it's watching the relationships build with kids in different divisions. They don’t get to sit in class together and interact with each other very often. It’s great to see a Lower School class walking down the colonnade and see them saying ‘hi’ to their older castmates. We are one school working all together during the show.”

To register for "Dinner & a Show" on opening night, please click here. Honk! runs from April 25-27 in the Lora Robins Theatre and admission is always free!

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