Honk!

Honk! is a musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story The Ugly Duckling, incorporating a message of tolerance. The book and lyrics are by Anthony Drewe and music is by George Stiles (of the British songwriting duo Stiles and Drewe). The musical is set in the countryside and features Ugly – a cygnet who is mistaken as an ugly duckling upon falling into his mother’s nest and is rejected by everyone but Ida (his mother), a sly tomcat who only befriends him out of hunger, and several other barnyard characters.
The musical debuted at The Watermill Theatre in England in 1993. The West End production opened in 1999 and won the 2000 Olivier Award for Best Musical. Honk! made its U.S. premiere at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center (since 2006 known as the Riverspace Arts in Nyack) in Nyack, New York in February 2000. A slightly re-written production with a script more oriented to Americans opened at the North Shore Music Theatre in the same year as the Nyack production and had the same male lead, Gavin Creel, as Ugly. The NSMT production used almost the entire original creative team from Great Britain, with an American lighting designer. In its three-week run, over 30 regional theatres from around the US were inspired to include the show in their next season. Changes included the Turkey having a fear of Thanksgiving instead of Christmas, and the first line of the song, “A Poultry Tale” being changed from “In this backwater of England” to “In our patch behind the farmhouse”.