“Great from start to finish...”

editorial image

OH my, it was great to see and hear Phil Benzie back in action, and in great voice, in Deeside Musical Society’s production of HONK! at Aboyne Community Theatre last week (May 25 to 28) writes, Joan Anderson.

Phil made a welcome return to the fold, joining the remarkable cast who battled elements to give us a super winter pantomime last year. Fortunately, this time, the only snow problems were part of the plot as DMS portrayed Hans Christian Anderson’s animal fantasy story about an ugly duckling who is rejected by all but his mother, but eventually finds out why he is so different and rejoices in turning into a handsome swan.

On one level, Honk is an extremely funny, pantomime-like production with colourful characters like Phil’s Father Drake, bungling villains like the hungry cat played wonderfully by Graeme Massie or Brian Miller’s hapless turkey whose gawky overreactions to the word Christmas were comical in the extreme.

However, there is a more serious and moving message about difference and the way people are excluded or downtrodden, just because they are not cute or beautiful.

The stellar combined supertalents of Julia Shaw as Ugly and Vikki May, as the duckling’s mum, meant the genuine laughter was tempered with sympathy and emotion, fuelled by song lines like: “Every tear a mother cries is a dream that’s washed away.”

As always, with DMS, this musical was a treasure box of happy surprises.

Four young people, Cameron Cox, Roan Grant, Rebecca Levie and Naomi Smith, helped weave the storyline with professional-level performances as the ducklings.

The Goose Squad, led by Mike McMillan and Jane Bruce, combined military pomposity with a highly entertaining flight pattern and home-spun sound effects. The bullfrogs, led by John Thomson, received an enormous, well-deserved cheer for their magnificent Warts And All routine.

The vast majority of the cast played multiple roles, and shone in all of them. Nancy Davidson, Stephanie Mitchell, Joe Scotchman, Anna Sheldon and Morag Thomson had between two and five roles each, but they were entertaining and convincing in each.

Jessica Rebecca’s multiple roles included the charming Penny Swan, who helped young Honk adapt to his new identity; Jennie Symon’s roles included the comical but endearing cosseted hen Lowbutt, and Sheila Benzie was an amazing cat, among other characters.

In fact, Sheila and Graeme, as the amorous felines, gave us an almost eyewatering display of raunchiness, bordering on adults-only, but saved by their comic timing and great sense of fun.

Other delights included Vikki’s full-on Joy of Motherhood; Julia’s moving I’m Just Different solo; the beautiful, atmospheric Lantern Search song and the choral piece to herald winter. But, heck, what am I saying? It was all great from start to finish.

Thank you so much DMS…for the Aaaaah factor, the Aha! factor and the Hahaha factor. Honk! Honk!