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Friday, February 5, 2016

Young 'Uns make a big splash with Honk!

* Back row,  from left: Little ducklings played by Kate Reardon, Connie Richardson, Maisie Ansloos and Charlie Priestley. Front row: Ugly (Shea Ferron), Drake their dad (Jac Edwards) and  Ida, their  mum (Amy Jones).  

A TALENTED flock of kids from Llangollen Young ‘Uns are making a big splash with their latest production telling the heart-warming tale of an ugly duckling.

Honk! is an award-winning musical adaptation of the hand Christian Andersen story The Ugly Duckling, incorporating a message of tolerance.

The book and lyrics are by Anthony Drewe and music is by George Stiles, of the British songwriting duo Stiles and Drewe.

The West End production opened in 1999 winning the 2000 Olivier Award for Best Musical.

And this version at Llangollen Town Hall by over 40 young members of Llangollen Operatic Society’s junior section, aged six to 18, also takes the honours.

The musical is set in the duck yard of a countryside farm and features Ugly, a cygnet who is mistaken as an ugly duckling after falling into his mother Ida's nest and is rejected by everyone but her, a sly tomcat who only befriends him out of hunger, and several other barnyard characters.

Taking flight as Ugly is Shea Ferron, already a Young ‘Uns old hand following his outstanding shop-boy in their past production of Half a Sixpence.

He plays this part with a nice touch of pathos, especially in the song Different which sums up his predicament after being rejected as a fowl oddity. He handles what is quite a meaty part for a youngster with aplomb.

Outstanding as his mother Ida is Amy Jones, getting plenty of emotion into her concern over Ugly when he goes missing from the farmyard and projecting a powerful singing voice.

Drake, Ugly’s dad who often ducks his fatherly responsibilities, is neatly portrayed by Jac Edwards.

Although he doesn’t have too much to do early in the show, Cassius Hackforth comes into his own later as Bullfrog, the twinkly frog who befriends the lost and bewildered Ugly as he roams the countryside. He bounds on stage and takes it over with his exuberant acting and singing.    

Amelia Keen cleverly portrays the predatory tomcat who is constantly trying to have Ugly for lunch with bags of feline cunning.

Shining as another cat called Queenie that our hero meets on his travels is Talulah Thomas, ably abetted by Erin Roberts as Lowbutt, a fussy hen.

Every member of the versatile and disciplined cast, who constantly switch roles to become different types of fish or fowl clad in a variety of colourful costumes, shines throughout the show.

Minimalist but well thought out stage settings are enhanced by images projected on to a big screen and a live band powerfully backs up a collection of catchy songs.        

Honk! which is the Young ‘Uns’ 26th production, was the perfect choice for the Young ‘Uns and does credit to the large production team spearheaded by artistic director Chrissie Ashworth,  musical director Julian Cattley and producer Pamela Williams.  

You can still catch the show tonight (Friday) and twice tomorrow when there’s an afternoon matinee and an evening performance.

* Tickets are available from Llangollen Tourist Information Centre, Jades Hair and Beauty, Gwyn Davies Butchers and Stella Bond on 01978 860441 or online at:

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