Honk! JR.
This delightful adaptation of the beloved fable and the award-winning musical is a heartwarming celebration of what makes us special.
Show Essentials
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Full Synopsis

The show begins with the dawn of a glorious summer's day out in the country. Standing in the sunshine is a small farm, behind which is a lake surrounded with cattails. Drake, a proud father-to-be, introduces us to "A Poultry Tale." His wife, Ida, and the rest of the farmyard residents join in the telling while the Cat hides, eyeing the duck eggs in Ida's nest, which he hopes will make a savory dinner. As the assorted barnyard animals rush offstage, Ida remains to tend to her nest of four average-sized eggs and one curious-looking, large brown egg. Ida is bossy and irritable after tending the eggs for such a long time and she complains to Drake about her cramped quarters and his unwillingness to shoulder some of the burden. After Drake makes a hasty exit, Ida sings affectionately about "The Joy of Motherhoood" with a neighboring moorhen, Maureen. They exchange observations on the anguish and happiness of bearing children just as the eggs start cracking. Four perfectly respectable ducklings emerge from the four perfectly respectable, average-sized eggs. After Maureen coos over the newly hatched ducklings, she goes off in search of Drake to tell him the good news. While the wide-eyed newborns yearn to explore their new world, their mother strictly lays down a few "nest rules" for her youngsters. Drake returns to meet his new children just as Ida realizes that the large egg has yet to hatch. Though Drake tries to persuade her to leave the big egg and join him and their ducklings for a swim, Ida insists upon staying with her unusual, unhatched egg. Drake joyously races the children down to the lake for their first swim while Ida resumes her position on the nest. Ida contemplates the last remaining egg and broods about why this one is so "Different." Suddenly there is a chipping sound, followed by a cracking sound. Ugly, a large, ungainly bird waddles out of his shell with a loud "HONK!"

Ugly cannot quack like the others. He is much larger than the others. Ida worries that her new hatchling is indeed a turkey — as Drake suggested — but Ugly allays her fears when he doesn't react to the word "Butterball" and is eager for a swim. Though at first taken aback by her unusual child, Ida hugs her duckling and all is well between mother and son. They make their way to the pond for his first swimming lesson. Ida instructs Ugly on the various joys and dangers of swimming in "Hold Your Head up High." Ida soon realizes that Ugly is an amazing swimmer and he is exhilarated and joyous until he meets Drake and the ducklings on the shore. They humiliate their awkward sibling with "Look at Him." Ida tries desperately to defend Ugly as the ducklings, along with the neighboring animals (and even his father, Drake), taunt and tease him unmercifully.

Grace, a duck so lovely that she is honored with a red band, meets Ida's new offspring and congratulates her — but only on the perfectly respectable ducklings. Ugly suffers further humiliation from the members of the barnyard when they gather for a taste of French bread thrown into the pond, but he is crowded out and unable to share in the feast. Alone, hungry and miserable, Ugly laments his fate of being "Different," but, at the end of the song, the devious Cat sidles up to him, commiserates and persuades Ugly to join him for "lunch" in his den. When Ida realizes that Ugly is missing, she organizes a search. Cat and Ugly arrive in the conniving feline's kitchen. Cat prepares his delectable repast a' la Julia Child's cooking program. He encourages Ugly to "Play with Your Food" as the innocent but hungry duckling joins in — never realizing the Cat's dubious intentions. By chance, a baseball whizzes into the Cat's lair and strikes him on the head. When the child who hit the ball decides to retrieve it, Ugly becomes frightened and decides to go back to the duck yard, leaving the unconscious Cat behind. However, as Ugly tries to retrace his steps, he realizes that he is lost. Meanwhile, back at the barnyard, the neighbors are certain that a culinary death at the paws of the wicked Cat befell poor Ugly, but Ida refuses to believe it. Suddenly, the fate of the missing fowl becomes a media event when Drake invites Jay Bird of "America's Most Feathered" to do a feature story about the missing duckling. In her television interview, Ida sings a heartbreaking "Every Tear a Mother Cries." She then sets out on a journey in search of her not-so-little, but very lost ugly duckling.

On the marshlands, Ugly has sought shelter in a ditch. There, he encounters Greylag (a stern, admiral-sort-of gander) and his wife, Dot, who are looking for their wayward flock of geese. Ugly asks the flighty pair for directions back to the farm, and the geese offer to help Ugly find his home. They advise Ugly that the Cat is not his friend and, since it is hunting season, they warn him to stay out of sight. The military-minded Greylag assembles his squadron of geese to join him on "The Wild Goose Chase," but who should pop up on the scene promising to take Ugly back to his disconsolate Mom? The Cat. Greylag, however, won't buy it and has taken personal charge of the duckling's safety. The Cat warns them not to fly while the hunters are about, and he magnanimously offers to spy on the hunters and to advise Greylag "when they are putting away their guns." Greylag, although wary, agrees. When the Cat assures the geese that it is safe to fly, Greylag insists that the Cat join them with a parachute. Cat, Greylag and the flock fly off in search of Ugly's mom, leaving Ugly, the poor lost soul, safely behind. But, as soon as the search party is airborne, shots ring out and feathers fly. Ugly now knows that the Cat is deception "purr-sonified" and never to be trusted. He's learned a valuable lesson, but he is still lost.

Meanwhile, back at the duck yard, Drake is burdened with the brunt of the responsibility of minding the brood ("Joy of Motherhood – Reprise"). Ugly, who is still lost, encounters Penny, the most beautiful bird he has ever seen, tangled in a fishing line. A chivalrous Ugly comes to the lovely swan's rescue. When Penny learns that Ugly is lost and alone, she eagerly suggests that he join her flock, fly south for the winter and then they will both search for his family next spring. Obviously attracted to this beautiful swan, Ugly is tempted, but he opts to stay and search for his worried mom. Penny embraces Ugly and takes off with a resounding "honk." Ugly is confused when he hears the familiar cry. He has been touched by the snowy-feathered, beautiful Penny, but he despondently concludes that she will forget him. Before he can get too maudlin, a Bullfrog with a Lily Pad under his arm jumps in front of the heartsick Ugly. The Bullfrog soon realizes that Ugly has a problem with his appearance. No stranger to denigration because of uncommon attributes, the Bullfrog cheers Ugly up and teaches him to love himself with "Warts and All."

Sufficiently cheered up and with a much better attitude, Ugly bids the Bullfrog and his Froglets goodbye. But as soon as the frogs depart, a farmer ensnares Ugly in his net and threatens to turn him into his family's Sunday roast. When the farmer briefly retreats, the Cat appears and offers Ugly a dubious proposition: he'll help Ugly escape the net and the farmer's fate to reunite Ugly for one last farewell with his mother... if Ugly will agree to be the Cat's main course. Desperate to see his mother and realizing that he's a dead duck either way, Ugly agrees to this ill-fated plan.

Throughout Ugly's journey, the seasons have changed. As Cat and Ugly make their way back to the barnyard, they are caught in a late winter "BLIZZARD." They fight desperately to make their way through the snow, but as the storm blows over, Ugly and Cat succumb to the weather and are completely buried beneath a snowdrift. Ida, having searched far and wide, recognizes her offspring's figure in a lump of snow and, realizing that she is too late, approaches her son's icy grave. As she sinks to her knees sobbing, Penny and her swan family have returned. Mother Swan sees Ida and encourages her tears, "for the warmth of a mother's tears can thaw the stoniest frost." As she turns away in frustration, Ida's warm and salty tears melt the snow, revealing her ugly duckling. The ice falls from his feathers, and Ugly emerges as a beautiful swan. "I'm not a duck" he honks, "I'm a swan!" Ida and her handsome Ugly embrace. Penny appears; their love is instantly rekindled. Ida, in her motherly wisdom, recognizes true love when she sees it.

So, despite the heartache of saying goodbye to her son, she sends Ugly off with his lovely Penny to learn the ways of the Swans. She follows the swans flying off and tearfully misses her son ("Different – Reprise"). Suddenly Ida hears a joyful "Honk!" from behind her. Ugly declares that he could never leave his true mother who raised and loved him unconditionally. Penny and Ugly decide that they will be the first swans to live on the duck pond. Ugly is proud to be different, and he likes his "Honk." Ida beams with pride. But, before they return to the barnyard, there is some unfinished business. Ugly taps the other lump of snow. The ice chips away and a rather batty Cat breaks out singing a befuddled "Melting Moggy." ("Moggy" is a British word for a house cat.) After all the Cat has been through, he has cracked up and is no longer interested in duck or swan dinners.

In the finale, ("Look at Him – Reprise") Ugly, Ida and Penny return to the barnyard with a flourish. The ducklings, the neighbors – and even Drake – now extol the virtues of having such a fine bird in their midst. Grace, previously the prettiest duck on the lake, graciously relinquishes her coveted red band to the handsome Ugly. The whole neighborhood has learned how important it is to "just believe in yourself. Don't be left on the shelf feeling that all hope is dead and gone. And you may find, in your own way, you're a swan."

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Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Children
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown


Beaky, Fluff, Billy, Downy are Ugly's siblings - cute little kid types. They are among the "popular" ones in the duck yard who enjoy making Ugly feel left out. They sing as a group.

The ugly ducking and the main character of HONK! JR. Innocent, easily confused and very impressionable, Ugly doesn't understand why it is wrong being different. However, his insecurities melt away as his character gradually changes from a gullible duckling to a wise swan, filled with self-esteem. He is the heart and soul of the show. He must be a strong singer and good actor.
Gender: male
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: D4
Ugly's mom. Ida is extremely protective of her son and committed to his safety. She is sweet but feisty, and she knows how to handle her husband, Drake. After Ugly is lured away from the barnyard by the Cat, Ida is determined to find him. Ida and Ugly's relationship is a key ingredient of the show. She is the one who teaches him that it is OK to be different. Ida sings several solos, and therefore she should have a strong soprano singing voice.
Gender: female
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: F4
Ida's husband. Drake is a sarcastic character. He is the stereotypical sitcom father - often shirking his parental duties. Drake finds Ugly quite repulsive and isn't afraid to say it to anyone, including his wife. He should have good comic timing and a strong singing voice. Drake opens the show singing "A Poultry Tale."
Gender: male
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: A3
A moorhen and Ida's best friend. (Originally found on the moors, a moorhen is a hen that lives near the water.) Maureen genuinely loves Ida, but she can't resist a bit of good gossip. To the little ducklings, she is the typical annoying and overly affectionate "aunt." Maureen sings "The Joy of Motherhood" with Ida, so she should also be a strong singer.
Gender: female
Vocal range top: C#5
Vocal range bottom: G#4
The Cat
The sly, cunning villain of the show. All of the other animals are deathly afraid of him. He is manipulative, cunning, witty and above all, HUNGRY. The Cat pretends to be Ugly's friend so he can eat him. The actor playing this role (which could be played by a male or a female) should bring a sense of fun to the character and have a good sense of comic timing. He sings a few songs, but his character allows for many of the lyrics to be "talk-sung." Improv skills are a plus.
Gender: any
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: A3
A somewhat pompous goose and washed-up British military type, Greylag tends to over glorify his mundane activities (i.e. migrating South) to the level of military operation status. Only his wife, Dot, truly knows how to handle him. He sings a solo in "Wild Goose Chase."
Gender: male
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: A4
A motherly type, she is genuinely concerned with helping Ugly find his mother. Dot doesn't think that Greylag, her husband, is an entirely capable leader, but she kindly humors his "over the top" actions. She sings solo as well as with Greylag in "Wild Goose Chase." Good singer.
Gender: female

The geese in Greylag's "squad." They join in singing "Wild Goose Chase." Good singers.

Gender: any

The geese in Greylag's "squad." They join in singing "Wild Goose Chase." Good singers.

Gender: any

The geese in Greylag's "squad." They join in singing "Wild Goose Chase." Good singers.

Gender: any
The Bullfrog
A laidback, self confident frog with whom Ugly comes into contact in the second half of the show. The frog cheers Ugly up with his/her song, "Warts and All." Optimistic and funny, he/she is a stand up comedian type of character will suited to someone with good improvisational sills and comic timing. This role can be played by a male or female.
Gender: any
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: A3
The young, beautiful swan that Ugly saves from a tangled fishing net. She is able to see beyond Ugly's looks and she loves him for who he is. She does not sing solo.
Gender: female
Father Swan

Penny's family. They help to console Ida when she thinks her son has dies, and they offer to take Ugly with them when they migrate. They do not sing solos.

Gender: male
Mother Swan

Penny's family. They help to console Ida when she thinks her son has dies, and they offer to take Ugly with them when they migrate. They do not sing solos.

Gender: female

Penny's family. They help to console Ida when she thinks her son has dies, and they offer to take Ugly with them when they migrate. They do not sing solos.

Gender: any
The most distinguished duck on the lake. Very aristocratic, she is considered the queen of the duck yard. All of the other animals look up to Grace and respect her. She, of course, is quite aware of this and is therefore a little bit haughty.
Gender: female
The Turkey
The headmaster of the ducklings' school. The Turkey is a bit snobbish and joins in the fun of teasing Ugly. There is of course one word that send shivers down his spine - THANKSGIVING! The Turkey does not sing solo.
Gender: male
A hen and another of Maureen's friends. Henrietta and Maureen gossip about the goings on in the duck yard. She takes great pleasure in making fun of Ugly. Henrietta does not sing solo.
Gender: female
Jay Bird
An investigative reporter. A very "in your face" bird, all she/he cares about is getting a good story. She/He is the typical TV news personality who one would find on a reality TV show like "America's Most Wanted." She/He reports a story about Ugly's disappearance. Note: If this character is played by a female, the name can be changed to "Maggie Pie."
Gender: any
The Farmer

The only humans in the show. They are never seen by the audience, only their voices are heard. These voices may be pre-recorded or said live from backstage during the show.

Gender: any

The only humans in the show. They are never seen by the audience, only their voices are heard. These voices may be pre-recorded or said live from backstage during the show.

Gender: male

The only humans in the show. They are never seen by the audience, only their voices are heard. These voices may be pre-recorded or said live from backstage during the show.

Gender: female
The remaining actors in the company play a number of different roles. Throughout the action of the play they take on roles as barn yard animals, geese, children at play, froglets, and part of the Blizzard scene.
Gender: any
Full Song List
Honk! JR.: A Poultry Tale
Honk! JR.: The Joy of Motherhood
Honk! JR.: Different (Pre-Reprise)
Honk! JR.: Hold Your Head Up High
Honk! JR.: Look at Him
Honk! JR.: Different
Honk! JR.: Play With Your Food
Honk! JR.: Every Tear a Mother Cries
Honk! JR.: The Wild Goose Chase
Honk! JR.: The Joy of Motherhood (Reprise)
Honk! JR.: Warts and All
Honk! JR.: The Blizzard
Honk! JR.: The Transformation
Honk! JR.: Look at Him (Reprise)
Honk! JR.: Warts and All (Reprise)


Curriculum Connection

  • Fairy Tales
  • Animal Behavior
  • Ecosystems
  • Personal Transformations
  • Tolerance
  • Bullying


Based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Duckling."


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