Community theater and students team up for ‘Honk’

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(Host) For 70 years, the St. Johnsbury Players have been staging community theater. As part of the celebration this summer, they’ve teamed up with high school students to stage Honk, a musical adaptation of The Ugly Duckling. Honk is a family show that has been a huge commercial and critical success in London, and it’s become popular with touring and high school theater groups.

VPR’s Neal Charnoff has more:

(Charnoff) The story follows Ugly, a brown, ungainly bird who just can’t quack properly. He learns to overcome humiliation and alienation with the help of his wise, protective mother Ida.

Bill Vinton of Waterford is the theater director at St. Johnsbury Academy. He’s the director for Honk, and he enjoys a play that brings together different generations.

(Vinton) “This is the third year we’ve done this collaboration between the high school theater group in town and the St. Johnsbury Players. And I started it for that exact reason, the idea of giving high school students a chance to do some musical theater in the summer — but also to give them the opportunity to work side by side with people who’ve had a lot of experience here in the local community, some with a lot of semi-professional experience in many areas. So it’s a great opportunity for lots of people to share information.”

(Charnoff) Brendon Haddish of St. Johnsbury is the minister at the local Unitarian Universalist Church. For Honk, he has taken on four roles: he’s a turkey, a goose, a frog and a swan. Haddish says community theater is really all about having fun.

(Haddish) “You’re not going to see perfection, but it’s the fun. And it’s the sense of community because it’s all going to be our families in the audience, and our friends, and it’s just creating a warmth in the community. Community is just so important to me.”

(Charnoff) Mindy Wren of St. Johnsbury plays Ida, the ugly duckling’s mother. Wren says that audiences will welcome Honk’s message of acceptance.

(Wren) “I think the universal theme here — everyone wants to be accepted — I think that goes a long way. And the idea that we shouldn’t judge folks just by what they look like, and that there’s something more important inside – I think people really want to hear that and believe that, in this world.”

(Charnoff) Honk will be presented August 18-19 at the St. Johnsbury School auditorium.

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