‘Honk Jr.’ second cast really entertains

MARQUETTE – The second week of “Honk Jr.” opened Wednesday at Lake Superior Theatre in the Frazier Boathouse, and it is every bit as entertaining as the first cast that finished its run Sunday.

The best part is, it is a different show, one that you should see even if you saw Cast 1 last week. Director Moire Embly and her assistant director, Jill Vermeulen, have done a great job of directing each cast to showcase their strengths and have succeeded in producing two differently textured shows.

Same script, same music, but varied takes on the characters by the second cast the second week make the audience feel a little differently about the characters and the story.

Truman Durand plays Ugly. He gives a very thoughtful performance as the odd duckling and you cannot help but empathize with him as he is ostracized for being different. You really feel how badly he wants to find his way home to his mother and his siblings. His vocals were enjoyable as well. Sophie Shahbazi plays the mother, Ida. In many ways, this is her show. Her voice is remarkable and strong, a delight to listen to. Every number she is in shines. Her mother’s worries and concerns for her brood are heartfelt. And her interactions with Drake, her “duck about town” husband are priceless.

Drake is played by David Bashaw. He rocks this role, alternating between proud papa and wandering drake, shirking parental duties until Ida leaves to find Ugly. His reprise of Ida’s “Joys of Motherhood” is a great moment in the show. Senia Manson plays The Cat this week. She is tiny and cute, a totally believable cat, albeit a little less threatening. She is adorable.

Noah Seppanen did a fine turn as The Bullfrog, a wisecracking old frog whose jokes are funniest to himself, but the message of his song “Warts and All” really does touch on the central theme of the show. Be yourself. Somebody out there will finally figure you out and love you, warts and all. Meagan Armstrong sounded great as she played Maureen and sang with her sister, Ida.

Top to bottom this cast is very talented. And not cookie cutters of Cast 1, but unique performers. And isn’t that what this show is really about?

As a director myself, I know how hard it is to impart your singular vision on a cast. But to take two different casts and tweak your vision of the script and staging to fit each cast is truly an art.

Moire and Jill should be commended for carrying this through, for recognizing that each cast was unique, and not trying to mold them both into producing the same show. Vocal director Jeff Bruning did an admirable job blending experienced older voices with the young ones to produce a great sounding performance.

The energy level displayed by the cast in the opening number shows how much the kids enjoyed what they were doing and how well directed they were. Jill Grundstrom’s choreography (aided by Jill Vermeulen) was entertaining to watch. Sound mixing was great, with all the vocals easy to hear and understand. Not an easy task in what is essentially a barn.

I recommend this show highly. Even if you saw it last week, go again. I was glad I was asked to review both casts. I was entertained both evenings. It is amazing the amount of talent that we have in this community and wonderful that we have a program like Lake Superior Youth Theatre to nurture it.

This show runs through Saturday at Lake Superior Theatre. All performances are at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available at the LST box office in Mattson Lower Harbor Park or by calling 227-7625. All ages will enjoy this show.

Editor’s note: Marty Martello is a Marquette area businessman who has long been involved in and committed to local theater. He has been a long-standing contributor to Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council productions.