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SHS musical tells tale of finding yourself

Ugly (played by Blake Merritt) tests out his “honk” after hatching from his egg. His mother, Ida (played by Nikki Quadere) looks on as she questions whether or not Ugly is truly her child.1 / 3
The cast of “Honk!” performs one of their opening numbers during a rehearsal on Monday, Nov. 21. The cast will perform “Honk!” three times, from Dec. 9-11. (Photo by Jordan Willi)2 / 3
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Think you know the story of the Ugly Duckling? Think again.

The Somerset High School drama department’s three performances of the musical “Honk!” starts off the same as the fairy tale you are used to, but quickly takes a twist that sends the Ugly Duckling on a journey of self-discovery.

“The story changes a little bit because (the Ugly Duckling) is ambushed by a cat — who’s sole purpose is trying to eat the duckling — so (the Ugly Duckling) goes on this big adventure trying to survive,” said senior Nikki Quadere, who plays mama duck Ida. “On his adventure, he meets a lot of interesting characters, like the bullfrog and a squadron of geese. Back at home, the duckling’s mother is worried about him, so she goes on an adventure of her own to try and find him.”

The cast will perform three shows for family, friends and the community on Dec. 9 (7 p.m. start), Dec. 10 (7 p.m.), and Dec. 11 (2 p.m.).

“At first, when I got the role, I was kind of scared because it is the Ugly Duckling and I was a little worried that people would make fun of that,” said junior Blake Merritt, who plays Ugly. “But now that I’ve gotten into the character, I’ve really started to love it because the message drives Ugly through the story.”

One of the biggest changes from past musicals is the inclusion of younger students in “Honk!”

“Having the younger kids here has been so much fun,” Merritt said. “The roles that they play are the younger kids in the musical, so they are absolutely perfect for those roles.”

Although adding the younger students into the play has added extra energy to the musical, it has also made scheduling practices where the full cast can be present difficult.

“This year has been a little bit of a different experience because we brought some younger kids into it, so finding practice time has been a little challenging,” Quadere said. “And then adding in all the upperclassmen who have busy schedules as well has made it a lot harder to find times where we can all be at practices at one time.”

Another potential challenge for the musical this year has been the need for more students to replace actors who graduated last spring and to fill out the cast and ensemble of a larger musical.

“We have had lots of people who haven’t been in a lot of plays before taking part in the musical this year, so it has been really nice to see those people, especially the freshmen, step up and take on bigger roles,” Quadere said. “They’ve all really stuck with it and have their lines memorized and are doing well with learning the songs.”

One such student who hasn’t had much experiences with musicals or plays is sophomore Eli Anderson, who plays a goose in “Honk!” and is also part of the ensemble.

“The biggest challenge for me is all the songs that need to be memorized and with that comes all the different parts you have to have memorized as well,” Anderson said. “All the positioning and putting together the singing and knowing where to stand and where to go off is probably one of the hardest things for me.”

One of the interesting things about this year’s musical, according to Quadere, is the musical styles that are represented in “Honk!”

“The music for this musical has a really large range of styles, everything from a bassa to a tango to really traditional folksy kind of songs,” Quadere said. “It kind of depends on the character. Like the bullfrog has a love song, but then the Ugly character has a sad song about how nobody likes him. There is a lot of variety.”

With opening night just over a week away, the cast feels confident that they will be ready to put on a great show for all those who comes to see “Honk!”

“I think we will be ready for opening night since we have been preparing really well and are at the stage where we are doing full run throughs and are just tweaking it now,” Anderson said. “I’m excited for everyone to see it and hear what they think about it. It is really impressive that we have been able to get something as big as this all together in such a short amount of time.”

The play, according to Merritt, is something everyone can enjoy and is suitable for children and adults alike.

“It is definitely something for everyone to come see. Everyone has struggled with self-image and being who they really are,” Merritt said. “The moral of this story has a lot of appeal to adults and kids who are struggling. It is just a fun musical and has something for everyone.”

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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