PORTSMOUTH – The Portsmouth Area Arts Council (PAAC) and the Children’s Theater are set to premiere their first musical since COVID this weekend at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts.
“Honk”, a production by Hans Christian Andersens, tells the story of the ugly duckling while also connecting with other fairy tales and themes of animal behavior, ecosystems, personal transformation, tolerance, and bullying. The show is recommended for all ages. A total of 49 local children ages 7-17 are featured in the production.
Shawnee State and Northern Kentucky University alumni Ali Thompson is set to direct her first full-length musical by herself.
“This has been a wonderful experience,” said Thompson. “The kids are so happy to be back together after such a long hiatus. It’s been great to be together as a team working together.”
Thirteen years ago, Thompson played one of the lead roles in “Honk” during a production at Portsmouth Little Theater. That’s one of the reasons Thompson chose to do this production again in 2021 as a director.
“When I came into PAAC, I knew I wanted to do something different. I wanted to steer away from Disney because they had done so many in the past. ‘Honk’ is such a great show because it has the themes kids need to hear. It talks about bullying, accepting other people as they are, working together as a community and self perseverance. Those issues are a big deal to little people and they need to grow up hearing about them.”
“Honk” will feature Carson Nickel (the Ugly Duckling) and Faith Claypool (Ida, Ugly’s mother) in the lead roles.
“Carson (Wheelersburg) does a great job,” said Thompson. “He has never had a role this big and now he has two solos. Something great I’ve gotten to do with this show – because it’s so big – is let the kids build their characters and find their own moments. I’ve given them barebones stage direction and encouraged them to blossom and grow with their characters. It’s been great to watch them grow as young artists.”
“Faith (STEM) is doing an incredible job, too. She goes through so many new emotions playing Ugly’s mother – and these are emotions she’s never had personally. But she makes it work and is just doing an amazing job.”
“Honk” will kick off on Friday, November 5th at 7 p.m. and run Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. as well. Tickets are just $12 for adults and $6 for children.
“Come see the show,” urged Thompson. “I’m proud of these kids. They’ve come so far after a year and a half of not being able to be creative on stage. They are giving their best and are going to hit the stage with passion!”