'Honk!' New Spin On Ugly Duckling Tale

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The hit Broadway musical "Honk!" is coming to Payson High School auditorium, courtesy of the music and drama departments.

"Honk!" is the story of Ugly, whose gawky looks incite instant prejudice from those around him, even his own family. Ugly gets separated from the farm, and only his loving mother Ida goes to search for him. On his journey, Ugly discovers his glorious destiny and true beauty, all while being pursued by a hungry cat.

"Honk!" reveals important lessons about tolerance and acceptance. It is a play the entire family can enjoy. According to a review in the Boston Globe, "One's inner child is not disappointed... messages about diversity have never gone down so painlessly."

Director Kathy Siler indicated that this play has been different in a way from other plays at the high school because it is a brand new musical rather than an old standard such as "Carousel" or "South Pacific." "Honk!" opened in London in 2000 and in New York in 2001. "Lots of regional theaters... have been doing this play across the country," Siler said.

While the job of the actors and actresses is to put on a persona that engages us, they do not bring tears to our eyes or laughter to out hearts alone. Their performances are supported by a crew of technicians behind the scenes. A play is the culmination of many efforts that must work together in precise timing.

"These technicians work very, very hard. They come in night and day to make these plays happen," Siler said.

Junior Seth Draper is in charge of lighting for the PHS production. "If you're not a second story man, you don't want to be a light person," said retired drama teacher, now volunteer, John Siler. "Sometimes they have to go up on grids and drop boxes. They have to be able to climb tall ladders and work off of them."

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Michael Kaulman works backstage on sound effects for the PHS play.

The sound effects person meets first with the director to find out what is wanted, then the fun begins. Michael Kaulman is the student responsible for producing the play's sound effects. He must find or create the sounds, then record them. Next, he must work to achieve the proper sound levels, and position speakers so that sounds are heard from the appropriate place on stage.

Property master Eric Molinar is in charge of acquiring props for the play. "He has to ride herd on the show props so they don't grow legs and walk away. He has to make sure the props are where the actors can get to them in a timely fashion," John Siler said.

Stage manager Rachael Timmer and her assistants keep the actors on track for the director. According to Kathy Siler, Timmer is a good coordinator of efforts who can be firm if she needs to be so the show goes on as planned.

Others helping bring "Honk!" to the stage are choral director Kathy Kaufman, choreographer Christy Walton, musical director Larry Potvin and technical director Tom Walling. Walling is a PHS graduate who returns to volunteer backstage just because he loves the work.

"Walling has developed quite a great rapport with our [technical] beginners," Kathy Siler said.

Ideally, lights, sound and action should have four weeks to coordinate, according to Siler. But due to high demand on the auditorium for other events, the drama and music teams have just one week to pull all the aspects together. In that week there are three to four full rehearsals.

Rehearsing all the elements of a play is a bit like the process an ugly gosling grows through to turn into a beautiful swan.

See "Honk!" at the PHS auditorium at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 22, and at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 23. Advance tickets are available at the Payson Public Library and Oasis Christian Books. Adult admission is $5, senior citizens $4, students $3, children kindergarten age and under are admitted free. Tickets will be $1 more at the door.

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