Honk if You Like Musicals!

PB Perspectives Welcomes Spring With a New Musical


Perspectives belts out one of many songs during the new musical.

Jourdan Zelaya, Features Editor

Everyone is different and unique in their own particular way. As we grow up, we find oddities in ourselves that many people may find intriguing, weird, or sometimes even downright strange. Some of these peculiar features can be seen in a positive light and provide advantages that most people can’t achieve.

On the other hand, these features can also make you the odd man out, especially when it comes to social groups. Some are accepted, some are ridiculed and sneered at; but at the end of the day, we should all learn to love our idiosyncrasies and turn them into something positive that we can love about ourselves.

This description is at the heart of Paint Branch Perspectives’ newest production, the musical Honk.

Perspectives’ annual musical installation took on the 1993 musical classic and ran March 24th, 25th, 31st and April 1st. The production team put on a performance that was cheerful, humorous, melancholy and even a tad bit dramatic.
Honk is the musical rendition of the children’s classic tale The Ugly Duckling, which is about a baby bird who was born on a farm among other animals. Fittingly named Ugly due to his larger size and darker physical appearance than his brothers and sisters, the animals on the farm begin to taunt him and make fun of him by calling him odd and strange-looking, and comment on him not resembling his parents or his siblings at all. Feeling down and searching for a friend, he comes across a cat – simply named Cat – who befriends him, but who also has ulterior motives behind their “friendship.” In fact, Cat plans to lure Ugly into his kitchen and cook him for his lunch. During this time that Ugly is away from the farm, the story primarily focuses on him trying to find his way back home as he wants to reunite with his brothers and sisters as well as his mother, and who searches for him. Of course, Ugly encounters some colorful characters along the way.

I’ll be the first to admit, when I first heard that a kids’ fairy tale was going to grace the high school auditorium stage, I was a bit skeptical. I thought, “How much further can they go than the superficial ‘Everyone eventually finds where they truly belong’ moral?”

I wasn’t quite sure how they would translate the message the story was sending through song. After watching the dress rehearsal of the performance several days before opening night, I was convinced that they got the message down while at the same time satisfying my ears.

Watching the musical entertained me as I felt my head bopping to some songs here and there, and subtlety tapping my foot to the beat of the songs. The orchestra in the pit did a tremendous job syncing their music to what was happening onstage. Despite the occasional audio difficulties such as the orchestra being too loud and drowning out the actors’ singing or the microphones dipping in volume, the show managed to keep the audience invested and, as I mentioned, heads bopping and feet tapping.

The pacing of the first portion of the show was a little slow, but that picked up considerably after intermission. Act II of the performance included cheery and zany characters such as Dot (Kaiya Wedge), Bullfrog (Abel Solomon) and Penny (Anjali Panickar) as well as several other interesting characters. These are actors and actresses embodied their characters very well, matching the archetypes of their characters with their own actions and intonations. Bullfrog, for example, is a comedian of sorts, attempting to make Ugly laugh when he feels down.

Singing performances were very catchy and stick-in-your-head inducing. Ugly (Eric Aaron), the protagonist of the musical, sang his heart out in several of his pieces, especially in his solo. Many of the singers in the musical definitely know how to transition from acting to singing fluidly. It was all very pleasant to hear. Colorful performances by Irvin Pamah, playing Cat, induced many laughs from the audience. He channeled the diva-like personality of a feline perfectly, using body language that was able to speak to the audience louder than his words. Also of note was Safiya Muthaliff as Ugly’s mother, Ida.

A story like this isn’t complete without its moral. If it doesn’t have a moral, then it lacks substance and meaning. Fortunately, there is a surprisingly great deal of wisdom that you can get by watching the musical version of a kid’s story. The takeaway of all this is that, despite the differences that you may possess, even when it may seem that your dissimilarities may not be in your favor, in the end, they always end up working out for you one way or another.

In the original story by Hans Christian Andersen, the ugly duckling eventually matures into a beautiful swan, gaining the respect and admiration of his friends and family. In the Perspectives edition, Ugly matures into a swan while, at the same time, finds love along the way. What we can all learn from this is that it takes times for everything to fall into place and, despite our stumbling blocks along the way, in the end, we all find where we truly belong.