Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Aug 04th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Quack Pack

ae2 MegMichaelShakespeare Santa Cruz’s ‘Ugly Duckling’ revamp promises to entertain and inspire

Anyone who has ever felt left out, or survived high school for that matter, will appreciate Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s holiday show, “Honk!” The charming and heartfelt production is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale, “The Ugly Duckling.”

“Essentially it’s a great allegory for bullying,” says actress Megan Smith, who stars as Ida, the duckling’s mother. “Being a person who is different from the dominant culture, how it affects your home and social life, and how to deal with that.”

The musical, which runs Nov. 16-Dec. 9 at UC Santa Cruz’s Mainstage Theater, tells the story of Ugly, an odd-looking duckling who was cast out at birth because of his appearance, and his journey to find love and acceptance.

Directed by Nancy Carlin, with music by George Stiles and text by Anthony Drewe, “Honk!” is a co-production of the UCSC Theater Arts Department and Shakespeare Santa Cruz. It will star many UCSC students alongside specialized actors, including Smith, who is a professional actress and musician based in the Bay Area.

The musical is the latest in a long line of non-Shakespearean holiday productions put on by SSC since 1997.

“Part of our mission at SSC is education, and the annual holiday show plays a big part in that—especially the special weekday matinées we perform for school groups,” explains Kyle Clausen, managing director of SSC. “They include an opportunity for a backstage tour and [for kids to pose] questions to the artists. For many of the over 2,000 children that will attend one of these matinées, it is their first exposure to live theater.”

The biggest difference between “The Ugly Duckling” and “Honk!” is the musical element. SSC’s adaptation is filled with rollicking song and dance numbers performed with the accompaniment of a live onstage band.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself as a performer being able to push myself in all of those directions of dance, song, and acting,” says Smith. “I think everyone in the cast would probably say the same thing; it’s great to be challenged to do all three of those things well for the purpose of telling a story.”

Smith has had plenty of practice telling stories through music, as one half of the popular acoustic Americana folk duo Misner and Smith. As actors, both Sam Misner and Smith work to integrate their passion for theater and music. The pair addresses the universality of storytelling in their songwriting and uses the vibrancy of each song to bring the action on stage to life.

“We believe in the music we’re making just as much if not more than we believe in theater. It’s the same artistic vision,” explains Smith. “I think what sets us apart is our live performance and our attention to detail, and the feeling of this openness with what we are performing that really draws people in.”

With a cast comprised predominantly of students—18 on stage, and more than 30 working behind the scenes—“Honk!” has given UCSC Theater Department students a chance to engage in a dialogue with and work alongside professional union actors. “This is a class for them, and an important part of their education as they apply skills learned in the classroom to this professional setting,” notes Clausen.

Smith’s role in the show and as a mentor to students has made her a mother hen in more ways than one. “It’s funny, I expected to be working with student actors who were very unseasoned and green—and they’re not,” says Smith. “They’re really professional, they come focused to work and that hard work makes it possible for me to do my work well.”

 “Honk!” may seem like an odd choice for a holiday production, but the themes presented—namely tolerance, compassion and understanding—are an excellent reminder of the true meaning of the season.

“This story is about the power of love and family and overcoming steep odds,” says Smith. “I think it’s important to highlight those things when a lot of people are really distracted by material wants [and] getting swept up in the craziness of the holiday shopping season—this has nothing to do with that.

“There are those cheesy moments—because it’s a musical—people break into song and we’re all dressed up as birds, and it's silly,” Smith continues, with a laugh, “but at the end of the day, the play has a heart to it that is undeniable.” 


“Honk!” runs Nov. 16-Dec. 9 at UCSC’s Mainstage Theater, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $18-30. Visit shakespearesantacruz.org or call 459-2159.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Health Screening

Santa Cruz wellness expert releases app to improve workplace well-being

 

Leo Sun; Full Moon, Venus Retro in Leo; Saturn Direct

It’s a complex week of planetary movements, challenges, demands and callings. We’re in the time of the Leo Sun. Leo—fixed fire, gold, the heart, generous, strong, noble, the king/queen—needs appreciation and praise from everyone in order to move forward. During Leo we gain a greater sense of self-identification by recognizing our creativity. It’s therefore a perfect time for Venus retrograding in Leo. In Venus retrograde we review and re-assess values. Venus retro in Leo concerns our self as valuable, acknowledging talents, gifts, abilities and offerings. Friday, Venus re-enters Leo (29 degrees, a critical degree) continuing the retrograde to 14 degrees Leo on Sept. 6. Friday (Full Moon) is also the (8 degrees) Leo solar festival, Festival of the Future. Leo is the heart of the sun, the heart of all that matters. When attuned to this heart, we have understanding and inclusivity. The heart of the Lion is Mitra (think “Maitreya,” the coming World Teacher). Leo prepares humanity to receive divine love from subtle sources and later to radiate that love to the kingdoms. Sirius, Ray 2, where love originates, streams through Regulus (heart of Leo), into the heart of the sun (Ray 2) and into all hearts. The heart of Leo is Regulus. Joining Venus, the love underlying all of creation appears. Saturday is Sun/Neptune (confusion or devotion) with late night Saturn turning stationary direct. Ideas, plans and structures held long in abeyance (since March 14) slowly move forward. (Read more on Leo and the week at nightlightnews.org and Risa D’Angeles’ Facebook page, accessed through my website.)

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 31

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Holy Cannoli

New bakery opens in Ben Lomond, plus Randall Grahm’s quest to grow 10,000 new grape varieties, and Mexican cooking classes

 

Is Santa Cruz turning into Malibu North?

It's got a ways to go before it gets wrecked like Malibu, but I think we need to be very careful about growth. Maria Mattioli, Santa Cruz, Psychotherapist

 

Bargetto Winery

A much-anticipated annual event at Bargetto Winery is the release of their very special La Vita red wine. June 7 was the day to be heralded this year, and I happily squeezed my car into their overloaded car park in eager anticipation of tasting the new La Vita nectar.

 

Margaritaville

Popular Capitola spot gets new owner and complete makeover