Erie Playhouse wows with Youtheatre show

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The musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling,” preached the always relevant message of tolerance and anti-bullying last month at the Erie Playhouse.

“Honk!” is an Olivier Award- winning musical about Ugly, a cygnet mistaken as an ugly duckling who faces intolerance from nearly everyone he encounters, including his father and siblings.

Ugly loses his way when a sneaky tomcat lures him away from his nest in order to eat him.

On his journey to find his home and loving mother, Ugly encounters a slew of exciting characters, including a prissy cat, militant geese, a jazzy bullfrog and a family of swans who lead him to discover his true, beautiful identity.

The Youtheatre production included both children and adults, two of whom were Gannon’s director of theatre and associate professor of theatre, the Rev. Shawn Clerkin, and assistant professor of theatre, Alaina Manchester.

Clerkin played the prejudiced and preoccupied Drake, Ugly’s father. Manchester portrayed the delightfully sassy Queenie, the aforementioned house cat that Ugly stumbles upon trying to return home.

Both Clerkin and Manchester represented Gannon well and were incredibly believable as a duck and a cat,  respectively.

Rounding out the adult cast were Gretchen Kerr playing the valiant Ida, Ugly’s mother and the heroine of the story; Charles Corritore as the relentlessly ruthless tomcat, and Michael Hipwell as the uplifting, positive bullfrog.

Rarely does the Erie Playhouse Youtheatre program incorporate adults into its performances, but it was wonderful to see them up there with the kids teaching them more about theater and helping their passions grow.

James “JR” Dandrea starred as Ugly and was the most charming “ugly” duckling to be seen.

A bundle of talent and fearlessness spilled from this young Erie performer.

Ella Corritore, Hailey Corritore, Michael Corritore and Karlee Kerchansky played Ugly’s siblings — a pack of silly, snooty and admittedly adorable ducklings.

The comically serious Greylag was played by Seamus Clerkin. He led his goose military with valor and humor.

The production, directed by Almi Clerkin, was unexpectedly heartwarming and left audiences wanting more singing animals.

The important message of encouraging and embracing individuality is perfectly taught in two hours of song and dance and transcends to people of all ages.

Bravo, Erie Playhouse!

 

JENNA SULECKI

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