Manila, July 24, 2003
"Honk!" Trumpets' latest musical offering is a modern retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's timeless classic, "The Ugly Duckling." It revolves around Ida a mother duck and her young hatchling "Ugly" who all the farm animals ostracize for being "different."

Their adventure begins when a Tom Cat lures Ugly away from home and Ida searches for her lost son. They each find themselves in all sorts of situations and meet a lot of colorful characters along the way. Will they ever be reunited? Audiences will cheer when they see how "Honk!" ends.

Written by the celebrated tandem of Anthony Drewe and George Stiles, "Honk!" won the 2000 Lawrence Olivier Awards as Best Musical, beating "The Lion King." It won two other Best Musical awards: the FNB VITA Award in South Africa, and the Elliot Norton Award in the USA.

It was at first titled "The Ugly Duckling, or The Aesthetically-Challenged Farmyard Fowl" when it opened at the Watermill Theatre in December, 1993. Then titled "Honk!," it opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, England in 1997, directed by Julia McKenzie.

The RNT production toured the United Kingdom in 2001 and in addition to the many other productions around the world, a feature film of the show is in development.

Trumpets president Audie Gemora saw the show in Singapore and asked one of the Filipinos in the cast Chari Arespacochaga to broker a deal with Anthony Drewe to give Trumpets the rights to mount it in Manila. Drewe was only too pleased to grant the request and was thrilled to know Chari would be directing the Philippine production.

Why is Trumpets, known for original productions, staging a British musical?

"It may be a British musical but the ugly duckling story is very Pinoy," says Gemora. "Honk!" has all the ingredients of a Trumpets hit musical: a touching story with an uplifting message, the right combination of comedy and drama, endearing characters, catchy tunes and countless possibilities for great production design.

"For the Philippines production we have assembled a brilliant young artistic team-Chari who I think is THE director to watch, Gino Gonzales whose sets and costumes design always impresses, much sought-after musical director Rony Fortich, and James Laforteza who did the choreography of 'Little Mermaid.' Brad Haak, musical director of 'Honk!' in Singapore and currently conducting for the touring company of 'The Lion King' in the United States, came in town rehearsing the cast. He has all praises for the Filipino cast's musicality."

The Trumpets production of "Honk!" boasts of a powerhouse cast. Franco Laurel and Carlo Orosa share the title role. Agot Isidro makes her stage debut as Ida, alternating with stage veteran Carla Martinez. There is world-class performer Sheila Francisco who plays multiple roles along with comedian Nanette Inventor.

Theater stalwarts Noel Rayos, Tonipet Gaba, Sweet Plantado, Analiza Zialcita, Mayen Bustamante, Mylene Rosal, Bongoy Manahan, and Loy Martinez, newcomers Rychard Everly, John Muhall, Paolo Valenciano, and diva-on-the-rise Lana Jalosjos round up the supports. They are backed up by a strong ensemble of Trumpets actors. Drewe will fly in from London (where he is busy adapting "Mary Poppins" into a musical for Disney and Cameron Mackintosh) to watch gala night.

"Honk!" runs at the Meralco Theater August 1 to September 7. Tickets are available at National Bookstore's Ticketworld at 891-5610 or Trumpets at 633-5010; 636-2842; 633-4387.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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