Honk!, Norwich

JOHN LAWSON Thorpe House School avoided some fundamental pitfalls in a thoroughly entertaining version of the ugly duckling story.

JOHN LAWSON

There are three fundamental traps that can befall companies of young actors – they tend to speak lines too fast, they fail to project their voices and, in musicals, they are unable to make themselves heard over the musical accompaniment.

But director Jane Hardy's careful coaching ensured, with the complicity of musical director Ian Willis, all three pitfalls were overcome by of Thorpe House School in a thoroughly entertaining version of the ugly duckling story by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe at the Norwich Playhouse.

The discipline shown by her young cast, mainly 12 and 13-year-olds, in ensuring they made the most of the lines was outstanding, while the balance between singers and seven-piece band was aided by the band's positioning in the wings and the actors encouraged to speak lyrics a la Rex Harrison when faced with a line that needed extra emphasis or was beyond the range of their young voices.

The result was the audience could enjoy every nuance of Drewe's wonderfully funny script, packed with farmyard puns and popular references.

And the company made the most of Stiles' songs while some great costumes created the personalities of the animals and waterfowl.

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