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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Stage Review

‘Honk!’ transforms child’s tale into all-ages fun

George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s “Honk!” delights in combining musical comedy with serious storytelling. What makes this Boston Children’s Theatre production so extraordinary is the high-caliber talent — ranging in age from 9 to adult — who make this show their own by delivering sincere, unadorned performances as ducks, bullfrogs, cats, turkeys, geese, and swans of the farmyard.

Stiles and Drewe’s musical retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” is that rare family musical that manages to be childlike without becoming childish. Under Larry Sousa’s brisk direction, all of Drewe’s jokes, puns, and comic touches land with precision, while Stiles’s melodic presentation of the lessons of tolerance and acceptance are delivered with subtlety and clarity. The BCT production is the Broadway Junior version, which means a few musical numbers have been deleted, but nothing feels left out and the show clocks in at 75 minutes, making it perfect for the youngest theater­goers.

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