Ugly Duckling takes a musical turn

DeKALB – The CCT production of “Honk!” features a down-in-the-mouth swan, dozens of ducks, a couple of touchy turkeys and a barnyard full of other fowl putting a musical spin on the classic tale of the Ugly Duckling.

The show will be presented March 8-10 and 15-17 at the O’Connell Theater on the campus of Northern Illinois University.

The production, a 2000 import from England that won rave reviews, reimagines the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale through the eyes of the misunderstood swan, Ugly, played by Clifton Hansen, who is scorned by all but his loving mother, Ida (Juli Breidenbach). Even his father, Drake (Steve Younker) considers Ugly an embarrassment to the flock.

Other than Ida, the only barnyard denizen who gives Ugly a second look is a cat (George Schippits) whose only real interest in the bird is as an entree. So Ugly strikes out on his own, where he runs into a string of characters who help him discover his inner beauty.

Helping on his journey are a flock of geese (Grant VanLanduyt, Taylor VanLanduyt and  Tessa Poffenberger) led by military-mastermind-wannabe Greylag (Jacob Ihm) and his wife, Dot (Brittany Watne). Along the way he meets a conceited house cat (Ruth Hart), a domesticated chicken (Tracey Busby), a bombastic bullfrog (Joe King) and a beautiful swan (Ariel Emmons), all of whom help Ugly find his confidence just in time to molt into the majestic swan he was meant to be.

“The show is a wonderful tool to teach a timely lesson about the evils of bullying,” said director Jeff Hall. “It’s filled with great songs and clever dialogue that help the audience come to realize that its what is on the inside of a person that counts.”

A large and lively ensemble of local theater veterans and newcomers round out the cast of the musical.

‘Honk!’

7 p.m. March 8, 9, 15 and 16

2 p.m. March 10 and 17

O’Connell Theatre, NIU

Adults $12, children $6

cctonstage.com.