During the technical rehearsal for Honk!, six-year-old Yunhee took a long stretch, tilted her head to the side and whispered, “LeCee, how many years until rehearsal is over?”
Little Yunhee’s question gave me pause to think. I thought about the wonderful actors in Honk!, some of whom have been with me for five shows, some for two, or three, and some for the first time and wondered how many more years would be enough for me, watching them blossom and grow in confidence and ability. Over the years I’ve watched as Sarah went from being on her knees as Milky White the Cow in Into the Woods, to being the lead in Annie, and now Ida in Honk! I’ve watched Jeffrey go from being a shy, quiet kind of guy off-stage to being a blockbuster on stage. Georgia and Theresa were shy about auditioning when they first started out, and now you can’t stop them from bursting into song.
After having played notorious villains like Miss Hannigan in Annie and Audrey II (the man-eating plant) in Little Shop, Georgia asked me if she was being typecast. I didn’t know what to say, except that one time I read her for a “nice” character — and she turned white as a sheet.
A little over a year ago, I met a quiet-ish boy named Michael, who is pretty much our resident character actor now. He’s amazing.
During Annie, Leigh said to me, “LeCee, I don’t mind not having any lines, but I must have a name.” After that, we let all of the orphan chorus members pick names for themselves. In this show, Leigh not only has a name, but much to say and sing. She’s lovely.
I’ve always admired Sara’s gymnastic abilities, but now, her voice has arrived … and so has her brother, Eric, who brings much to the show in terms of ability and commitment. He’s a dashing Greylag and a caddish Drake.
I’ve seen Declan emerge from having one line, then a couple of lines, and now an entire scene as Jay Bird and, by the way, he’s a dashing Froglet. His sister, Angelina, has flashing blue eyes that draw one to her when she’s in a scene. She really knocked them dead as one of the Ronettes in Little Shop of Horrors.
I often listen to our children sing and wonder, “Where did that come from? How can they do that?”
Jessica designed our main backdrop and drew it with her friend, Joseph. I’m impressed with their ability and tenacity. She spent three weekends drawing and painting that backdrop.
Some of our newer members are lovely. Emma came to us, bright and shiny as a new “Penny”, to complement Jeffrey’s Ugly. She’s been a joy to work with and sounds great singing with Jeffrey. One of our newer boys, Jackson, is a fine duckling and a fun, extroverted Turkey. One day, Jackson just emerged. We could finally hear him and he sounded great. I love how he expresses himself with his eyes. Jill’s “Dot” is my favorite of her characters, but I like how she brings Grace to life equally so.
Silvie is a fabulous Lowbutt to Leigh’s Queenie and, besides dancing beautifully in the Fish Ballet, is stunning as the Black Swan. Her sister, Thea, is a real character, a Duckling with attitude.
Ethan was thoroughly engaged from the first day of rehearsals when he announced that he was going to memorize his lines right away. He did that, and more. His Duckling is quite a character!
Our youngest actors bring great warmth, humor and a dollop of cuteness to the table. For this show, those actors are Sharon and Yunhee, that same Yunhee who wanted to know how many years it would be until rehearsal was over.
My answer? “Yunhee, I love watching you grow so much that I just don’t know.”