Charming. Witty. Heartfelt. Inspirational. Just a few of the words that describe the musical "Honk!" Based on Hans Christian Andersen's tale of "The Ugly Duckling," the show was the hit of London's 2000 theatre season, winning the Olivier Award (the British equivalent of the Tony Award) for Best New Musical.

A family musical that's not just for families, "Honk!" has become a wildly popular piece of musical theater for both youth and adults in the 14 years since it premiered in London. The timeless story of tolerance deals with poignant issues of fitting in when you are different as well as the tug of a mother's unconditional love for a lost child - but it tells the story in a way that is smart, loaded with humor, and ultimately moving and triumphant.

Director Kathryn Little describes the show as "a surprisingly sophisticated comedy, filled with equal parts laughter and tears and a message that will touch and entertain us all."

The SCERA Center for the Arts has selected "Honk!" as the showpiece production for its national award-winning high school company, Acting UP, and performances will be March 21-29 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays @ 7:30 p.m. Seats are reserved and available at $8 for adults and $6 for children (age 3-11), seniors (age 65+) and students (w/ID). They may be purchased at, by calling (801) 225-ARTS, at main office at the SCERA Center, 745 South State, Orem, open 10am-6pm weekdays and Saturdays from 12Noon-6pm, or at the door 30 minutes prior to the show.

"Honk!" is the story of Ugly, whose odd looks make him an instant outsider and the subject of ridicule and prejudice among most of his family and friends.

"The kids are having a lot of fun with 'Honk!'" says Little. "I like it because it is so well written, with nice choral writing, great dancing in many dance styles, and it's just so clever. It's a great culmination piece for students who have been working on their craft for several years. It's kind of like a Pixar production in the fact that kids are going to love it, but parents are going to enjoy some fun humor their children aren't likely to catch."

The country tale begins when Ugly, a cygnet, falls into his mother's nest and is mistaken as a ducking, an ugly duckling. Except for his mother, a sly cat who wants to eat him and a few barnyard characters, he is rejected because of how he looks. He gets spirited away by the cat, avoids being eaten, but become lost as he embarks on a series of rollicking and harrowing adventures while his mother searches for him.

Leads in the 40-member cast include Caleb Gardner as Ugly, Sydney Frei as Ida, and Dresden Means as the would-be carnivorous cat. Assisting Little are Brodee Ripple, choreographer and costumer; Shawn Mortensen, set designer; Brandon Moss, lighting designer; and Sherri Holcombe, stage manager.

"I hope audiences come not only because it's such a delightful show," says Adam J. Robertson, SCERA President and CEO, "but also because of the incredible talent of Acting Up - these kids are amazing. It's no wonder they win theater competitions every year."

Photo by Mark A. Philbrick

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