Posts Tagged ‘ Honk! ’

Acting like a duck

You keep paddling like the clappers,
Just keep paddling with your flappers,
While seeming to be dreaming and calm.
Just beneath the surface
You may struggle to get by.
But nothing can deter you
If you hold your head up high.

So sing a mother and son pair of ducks in Honk! as the ugly duckling learns to swim.  The image of a duck or swan gliding serenely across the water while its legs are working nineteen to the dozen beneath the surface is particularly apt for theatre.  No matter how polished a performance the audience may experience, you can guarantee that backstage is complete chaos, involving many people whose existence would surprise the paying punters in the audience.  Actors may be dashing about at breakneck speed, changing costumes and locating props.  Crew members all in black will be changing microphones, getting sets into position, acting as crowd control, clearing the stage of hazards, grappling with velcro, safety pins and gaffa tape.  There’ll be a deputy stage manager constantly whispering into his or her headpiece to communicate with cast, crew, lighting people, sound people and more.  Miles of electrical cable coil like snakes around the building, clothing rails are hidden in the strangest places, the sewing machine is very rarely turned off and at any given point, several people will be in the middle of a nervous breakdown.

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In praise of jollity

A conversation about the musical Honk!(which won the Olivier award a few years ago, much to everyone’s surprise) today reminded me of the love I have for its authors.  Composer George Stiles and lyricist (sometimes librettist as well) Anthony Drewe have been working together for over twenty years, and I find that all their work, together or with other collaborators, leaves me with a smile in my face and a song in my heart.  ‘Jolly’ certainly describes a lot of their output, and much as I love the beauty of Rodgers and Hammerstein, the bite of Kander and Ebb or the complexity of Stephen Sondheim, there really is nothing wrong with jolly.  They can take on other moods as well, but sometimes jolly is what you need after a hard day at work! Continue reading

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