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Review of Honk Jr. by the Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

Honk Jr could not be described as high art, a collection of silly songs and corny jokes (Not marmalade dad, WHAT"S MAMA LAID!!!), it was just simply pure fun performed by a mighty band of youngsters, who they themselves appeared to be having high fun while also for so young, staying professional throughout.

Honk Jr. is a junior version of Honk, which in turn is a musical version of the Ugly Duckling. Honk! was written by George Stiles (music) and Anthony Drewe (lyrics) and originally performed in 1993 in Newbury. The junior version is a slightly adapted version with some alterations to characters and songs, but it maintains some of its more grown-up jokes (I haven't been out there since your father and I were courting...and I didn't mean to go that far then!), that are the little bits for the adults and did offer some interesting responses I noted from the audience.

Before I get to the performers, I have to make special mention of the set which was a delight (and latterly I learned a touch of the A Tale Of Two Cities). Clever ideas like the rubber parts of the set allowing the cast to pass through "wood" and the early centrepiece with some of the cast already present (albeit hidden) was well designed allowing the young performers to create different areas of staging as the play moved on. The art work on the floor was also very well realised.

However back to our young performers and what a talented bunch they were for ones so young. All the leads were impressive with Connor Charles Christy as Ugly providing a good honk and a lovely well done transformation scene at the end. Both of Ugly's parents, Aimear Hannah Elson and Curtis Sloan (down the watering hole!) were also impressive, well to be honest pretty much all the cast were. However the stand out performer for me; and was also for one young lad in the crowd as well I think, who cried out "THE CAT" when she returned later in the play; was Zoe Holloway. The perfect young feline performed by one of the shorter cast members, but with a performance above her size. Strutting around proudly as the perfect puss would, she was a delight and the scene stealer whenever she was on stage.

The songs themselves were generally all well performed with an understandable obvious mixture of standards of vocal talents, but all perfectly pleasant and a few talents on show for the future if they keep it up. The musical pieces were all well staged, with the stand out group performances of "The Wild Goose Chase" and "Warts And All" being the highlights.

Overall this was a very well staged and performed version of what is just a silly little feel good musical and sometimes we all want just a good bit of silly in our lives. Even more so us grown-ups!

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