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REVIEW: Honk! at the Theatre Royal, May 21

The National Youth Music Theatre performed Honk! at the Theatre Royal as part of the 2017 Bury Festival programme
The National Youth Music Theatre performed Honk! at the Theatre Royal as part of the 2017 Bury Festival programme

This year’s Bury Festival has once again invited ‘creative critics’ to review a number of performances.

Below are a selection of reviews of the National Youth Music Theatre’s performance of Honk! at the Theatre Royal on Sunday written by Year 5 pupils from Woolpit Primary Academy.

This brilliant performance had an exciting twist on Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Ugly Duckling’. I absolutely loved it because it made me like I was actually there and the songs were so pretty with a beautiful background. It was a brilliant story of a chick being born differently from the others and was teased for it but it turns out that he was actually a graceful, elegant swan and the bullies were sorry about what they had done to him. This incredible version of the Ugly Duckling has been recreated by Anthony Drewe with help from George Stiles on the stunning lyrics. The main character (Ugly, the duck/swan) was played by 14-year-old Mathew Sugden, Ida (mother duck) was played by Dominique McIntyre who is 15 years old, Drake (father duck) was played by Ben Wilson who is 15, and there are many more! I hugely enjoyed this play because it was so funny, it was interesting, it was exciting and I also loved it because everybody else did as well.

By Tom Davey

It was a musical based on the Ugly Duckling which has won a number of awards, including the 2000 Olivier Award for best musical. The relaxing music was by George Stiles and the outstanding lyrics by Anthony Drewe. This perfect performance was directed by an obviously talented director called Jeromy James Taylor. Ugly (played by Matthew Sugden, age 14) is the last egg to hatch and is the most subtle out of all the ducklings. When the others come back after a swim, they see Ugly and start to bully him. Then the mum (Ida, played by Domonique McIntyre, age 15) defends her new born child, Ugly. The dad (Drake, played by Ben Wilson, age 15) insists that Ugly is not their child. I really liked the choreography and the music because the actors looked really relaxed and when they danced they just looked so graceful, like a delicate feather floating from the cobalt sky. I think that the moral of the story is don’t judge a book by its cover. Rated, my score for the musical would be a fabulous 10 out of 10!

By Eve Yeldham

This amazing piece of work was all performed by children. The youngest actor chosen was eleven, the oldest seventeen, but they were so good, the actors were better than professionals! The music, by George Stiles, and the lyrics by Anthony Drewe, were made in 1993 and have won an Olivier award. These actors only rehearsed in nine days and, with no intervals, they played it amazingly well. One thing I would say is that there were no changes in the setting, so it seemed that when the Ugly Duckling got lost, he was in the same place! In this theatre production there was comedy, and there were some quite unhappy moments, like when he was rejected by his eight brothers and sisters. My highlight of this production is probably the four bull frogs, they were the funniest out of all the actors (and the slimiest)! The costumes of the actors were really quite good and what I liked about them is that they were quite smart, wearing suits and waistcoats. I encourage people from the age of seven to senior to watch this exemplary, high quality theatre production.

By Joel Casey

The musical was really funny and quite sad. I saw lots of inspirational dances and I heard some funny stuff, basically Honk is based on the ugly duck, so there were eight eggs but one was different from the rest. There were so many great singers and great dancers it blew my mind, it was outstanding. I loved it. My favourite part was when the father came back with the eight ducks and he was so surprised. The amazing music was conducted by George Stiles. They had nine days to rehearse, when I heard that I was shocked – nine days! Anthony Drewe wrote the lyrics to the songs. The good part was how they made sound like they were in 1800s/1900s and the costumes were like in the 1800s/1900s which made it look cool and sound cool. The person who played Ugly was Mathew Sugden. He’s 14 years old and he was great playing the ugly duckling. I loved the show and, a score out of 10, I would say 10 out of 10.

By Bobby Burch

HONK! is a brilliant story based on the Ugly Duckling. The music by George Stiles and lyrics by Anthony Drewe. We follow the Ugly Duckling through a glorious adventure. Embarrassed by his looks he sets off with a fiendish feline. It was amazing that young actors took part with only nine days to rehearse and the oldest actor was 17. HONK! was amazing and it made the audience cheer after each song. The music and the sounds were great but sometimes the music drowned out the singing. For 40 years the National Youth Music Theatre has represented the very best in work with young people in musical theatre leading Andrew Lloyd Webber to describe it as the best youth music theatre in the world. Mostly I enjoyed the songs and the characters. It was a great play but maybe the cat could have cat ears.

By Sam Macaulay


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