“Ugly” to hit THMS stage

Looks can be quite deceiving when it comes to a little swan who thinks he is a duck. He is called the ‘ugly duckling’ and everybody abhors him.

That is the role eighth grader Abe Nouri plays in Honk, the Thomas Harrison middle school spring musical. The production is a remake of the ugly duckling story but with a few new characters and songs.

“There is a little kid element of immaturity, or unprofessionalism, that people relate to middle school musicals,” eighth grader Celia Ehrenpreis said.

“And we want to prove them wrong,” Nouri said. “Rachel Cavoto, who plays the cat that entices Ugly away from the ducks, has one of the best voices. There are clever lines and the characters are easy to fall in love with.”

Nouri plays the role of ‘Ugly’, the ugly duckling, who starts out with a hideous appearance, and transforms into a beautiful swan. Ehrenpreis plays Grace, the lead adult duck. She has a high social status and is the protagonist of the story who banishes Ugly from the rest of the ducklings.

Practices range from 1.5-3 hours long and each of the five ensemble numbers are rehearsed approximately 50 times before opening night.

“Musical productions are the “triple threat”. One has to act AND sing AND dance,” drama director Kim Schlabach said.

In the past, both Nouri and Ehrenpreis have played roles in the productions of Sir Nose, Annie, Zink the Zebra, and Tom Sawyer. Honk will be their final chapter of middle school drama. They both plan to continue their involvement in drama when they get to high school, and run cross-country.

“We are really going to miss our directors, Mrs. Schlabach and Mr. Strawderman, and the whole drama scene,” Ehrenpreis said. Nouri agreed.

Like the HHS production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Honk requires an immense amount of parental participation in set construction, set painting, finding props and costumes, providing refreshments, Box Office/Ushers, placing posters around Harrisonburg, purchasing some costume needs, setting lights and sound. One could say the parents “run” the show. Fortunately that is not the case because the parental help is only a fraction of arranging the production.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done before a play. Everyone has his or her role, and in the end it all fits together like a puzzle. The whole picture looks best with all pieces present.

The musical is scheduled for March 19-21, 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday. To reserve tickets call 271-3064. Concessions provided by the THMS FCLA club with profits going to Haiti Relief.

“We are hoping for a huge crowd, and that they will enjoy it,” Nouri said.