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Honk jr.

DIRECTOR: Francios Theron

CAST: Ferdinand Botha, Andile Magxaki, Pulane Palmer and ensemble

VENUE: National Children’s Theatre in Parktown

Until: Sunday. From Mondays to Saturdays at 9am and 11am (during government school term) and Tuesdays to Sundays at 10.30am and 2.30pm (during school holidays)

RATING: ****


“Run! She’s going to get you,” yells a young voice in the audience. Everyone laughs and looks around; we all want to put a face to the young lad who was brave enough to say what we all were thinking. The lad’s call, as clear and loud as it is to us in the audience, appears to have fallen on deaf ears where Ugly’s concerned. Alas, the cat is approaching. It appears this duckling won’t live long enough to turn into a swan.

Honk Jr is a modern musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling and takes you on a harrowing journey of acceptance and discovering the beauty of being different.

Ugly (Botha) hatches and looks nothing like his parents or siblings – or any other duck for that matter. He gets teased and is isolated from all quacking activities. The cunning cat every duck warns her ducklings about takes advantage of Ugly’s loneliness and lures him home where she plans to eat him for dinner, but unsuspecting Ugly manages to escape.

He is now faced with the mammoth task of finding his way home to his mother. Botha’s captivating performance will have you wanting to jump on to the stage to protect him when he’s being picked on, and may leave you with thoughts of a fatal furball, given the cat’s relentless attempts at having the duckling’s head on a plate.

On his journey Ugly makes unforgettable friends, such as the hilarious Bullfrog (Magxaki). Bullfrog hops into Ugly’s life and provides some comical relief when the duckling is at his lowest. Magxaki’s performance is filled with conviction and you’ll cer- tainly clap a little harder when he gives his individual bow at the end.

Ugly also enlists the help of a gaggle of geese to help him find his way and they set off, in song, on a wild goose chase. The creative genius of music director Rowan Bakker shines through during this number. You may be able to hold back your urge to scream and warn Ugly about the cat behind the bush – but not the singing and humming after the show.

Palmer delivers a tear-jerking performance in her role as Ugly’s endearing mother, Ida. She tugs at your heart strings during her quest to find her son. This is Palmer’s second casting in a children’s play, and she admits she enjoys children’s theatre more.

“Children’s theatre is great fun. It doesn’t box you in,” she said. “You can be as big and silly as you want to be.”

Honk Jr is a witty and colourful musical that will have the whole family laughing as often as they shed tears. Fun choreography and catchy music keep children entertained, as well as some tastefully scripted humour that is appreciated by the older audience members.

The cast consists of 11 professionals and 12 talented children from the National Children’s Theatre workshops who feed off each other’s energy to create a theatre piece guaran- teed to enrapture their audiences.

Will Ugly heed the young boy’s call and pull off yet another escape to be reunited with his mother? Or will the cat finally get to sink her claws into the ugly duckling?


• For bookings call 011 484 1584/5 or e-mail bookings@ Booking is essential.