Things will get ugly on the stage of Westerville Central High School this weekend.
The high school's theater department will present Honk! -- an updated musical version of the classic ugly duckling tale with a strong anti-bullying message -- at 7 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday Feb. 21-24.
The play follows "Ugly," who is mocked by his father, siblings and other barnyard animals. He is lured away from his family by the Cat, who aspires to eat Ugly, only to become lost.
As he searches for his family, Ugly encounters other animals who make him feel better about his lot in life.
While the play is based on a children's tale, it has a wittiness that will appeal to adults, as well, said Director Michael Fusco.
"It's one of those double-level shows. It's kind of like Shrek or Toy Story, where the kids will enjoy it, but it's very clever, and there are songs that the adults will enjoy," Fusco said. "There's lots of 'fowl' humor -- 'fowl' with a 'W.' ... They give us good puns and clever insights for people."
The show is popular among high school companies for its anti-bullying message, Fusco said, and Westerville Central is doing the play up with a large set, more humanlike characters and a choir of elementary school students.
"We're doing ours with a very different type of approach: Big production, big set," Fusco said. "It just puts it on a different level. It's not toning it down; it's taking it up a bit."
Junior Kristin Yates, who plays Ugly's mother, Ida, said the show carries a sweet message, not only against bullying, but also of forgiving those who might bully you. The message, and the humor, gives the show broad appeal, Yates said.
"It's funny and it's heartfelt and it has something for everyone," she said.
The show has been great to produce not only because of its content but also because of the teamwork that has gone into it, said senior Curtis Kinnell, who plays the Cat.
"I'm going to think about this 20 years from now, and I'll look back at this as a highlight," Kinnell said.
As Fusco says, it is a big production, with hundreds of students participating.
Cast members, in order of appearance, include:
Josh George as Drake, Curtis Kinnell as Cat, Kristin Yates as Ida, Caroline Ogle as Maureen, Kristin Mathis as Beaky, Abby Nofzinger as Billy, Haley Golaszewski as Downy, Rachel Schwanekamp as Fluff, Bishop Darby as Ugly, Elizabeth Mardis as Henrietta, Davida Jones as Turkey, Georgi Seeley as Grace, Matthew Tucker as Jaybird, Diane Mardis as the Floor Manager, Allison Doan as the Camera Operator, Patrick Petrilla as Greylag, Meghann Kasson as Dot, Madie Moore as Barnacles, Courtney Lukacs as Pinkfoot, Madi Ryan as Snowy, Jordyn Conley as Lowbutt., Abby Morris as Queenie, Meredith Morse as Penny, Kailey Darby as Swan Mother , Matthew Tucker as Bewick, Patrick Petrilla as Frog , Diane Mardis as Swan Sister., Abby Morris as the Featured Dancer, Haley Golaszewski, Abby Nofzinger, Meredith Morse, Kaitlin Kegg, and Abby Morris as Tap Dancers, Jordyn Conley, Georgi Seeley, Kailey Darby and Meredith Morse as Vegas Showgirls, Meghann Kasson as Little Boy, Meredith Morse as Little Girl , Patrick Petrilla as Old Lady, Meredith Morse as Farmer.
Ensemble members, appearing in various groupings playing various barnyard fowl and frogs, include: Allison Doan, Kaitlin Kegg, Georgi Seeley, Madi Ryan, Courtney Lukacs, Caroline Ogle, Josh George, Patrick Petrilla, Abby Morris, Jordyn Conley, Meredith Morse, Maddie Moore, Davida Jones, Elizabeth Mardis, Haley Golaszewski, Rachel Schwanekamp, Kristin Mathis, Abby Nofzinger, Kailey Darby, Meghann Kasson and Matthew Tucker.
The Froglet Chorus includes: (name, grade and school) Soloist: Emily Felts (3rd Huber Ridge) Jake Bibbo ( 5th Fouse), Carissa, Clark (5th McVay), Clay Danec (5th Fouse), Ciarra Drum (5th Alcott), Amanda Felts (5th Huber Ridge), Layla Goebeler (4th Whittier), Josiah Holloway (5th Hawthorne), Emily Hogan (5th Alcott), Evan Kilkenny (5th Alcott), Mackenzie Madden (5th Hanby), Maeve Mahoney, (5th Alcott), Abigail Markley (5th Hanby), Emma Murphy (5th Fouse), Janie Lee Nickel (5th Fouse), Deja Onyedumekou ( 5th Hawthorne), Noah Palozzi (5th Fouse), Elizabeth Pierce (5th Alcott), Chad Schumacher, (5th Huber Ridge), Ava Stauffer (5th Fouse), Jaiden Stokes, (5th Hanby) and Cherie Stone (4th Mark Twain).
Playing in the orchestra are: David Swank on piano, Elaine Gray on flute, Rachel Wozniak on clarinet, Chelsea Craine on saxophone/flute, Andrew Kovaleski on saxophone/clarinet, Lauren Bennett and Mitchell Parton on trumpet, Danielle Rymers on horn, Eric Stratton on bass and Ben Oates on drumset.
Production leadership team members and their roles include: Director Michael Fusco, Vocal Director Hillary Billups; Technical Director Mark Blessing, Assistant to Mr. Blessing Jamie Schwanekamp,Musical Director Jason Jackson, Choreography by the Generations Performing Arts Center, Costumer Jude Berger, Artistic Design Nancy Morse, tickets Jeff Berger, and House Manager Jessica Buerster.
The production's technical leads are Lighting -- Brian Wood; Sound -- Colin Fralick; Set Construction -- Jacob Petro; Stage Manager -- Justin Schroeder; Running Crew -- Brandon McNeal.
The lighting crew is made up of Brian Wood and Audrey Melko; and Alex Griffi th is in charge of sound.
Working on the set are: Ryan Wright, Ben Oates, Brandon McNeal, Dylan Thompson, Jacob Petro, Woody Gray, Nick Forquer, Keith Cavicchia, Thomas Cochran, Rachel Eulberg, Rylee Barnett, Chris Jones and Rachel Schwanekamp.
On props are Jennifer Walsh and Lydia Binnig; on costumes Jordyn Conley, Jessica Buerster, Madie Moore, Matthew Tucker, Emma Evans, Chelsea Lilley, Abby Bakek, Kira Stansberry, Ms. Pandora Porter, Ms. Carlene Tucker, Ms. Susan Wood, Ms. Kathy Volpe, and Ms. Gayle Henderson.
And providing artistic painting for the production were Ms. Nancy Morse, Ms. Brigid Moriarty, Mr. Derrick Ehlen, Rylee Barnett, Nick Weislogel, Easton Ho, Lexi Carlisle, Thomas Cochran, Ashton Darby, Rachel Eulberg, Tristan Jarvis and Meredith Morse.