Going for something different, Goleta Valley Junior High School has chosen as its spring musical Honk!, a little-known show written in 1993 by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

The musical has won multiple awards, including the 2000 Olivier Award for Best Musical.

Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling, Honk! tells the story of an odd-looking baby bird named Ugly and his quest to find out who he is and where he fits in.

“This theme is perfect for junior high school students — for all students, really,” theater teacher Carolyn Ross said. “We all feel different or out of place sometimes, unsure of who we are. This play reminds us that we all will find our way eventually, and we all turn out beautiful in the end.” 

Ugly does turn out to be a beautiful swan in the end, but as a baby, he is taunted by his duckling “siblings,” shunned by the rest of the duckyard animals, and lured away by a wily Cat who wants to eat him for dinner.

Daniel Salinas, a GVJH eighth-grader, plays Ugly with compassion and grace, pulling at our heart strings as he sings that “different isn’t spiteful, different isn’t wrong, so why is it so hard to get along? I only want to get along.”

The Bullfrog, played by Talya Steinberg, shows Ugly, played by Daniel Salinas, how to release his inner beauty

The Bullfrog, played by Talya Steinberg, shows Ugly, played by Daniel Salinas, how to release his inner beauty. (Juli Hayes-Nadler photo)

Matt Tavianini of BOXTALES Theatre Company directs the cast of 50, made up of dozens of animals — geese on a military mission, the domesticated Lowbutt and Queenie, outrageous singing frogs, dancing fish, swans and a turkey, just to name a few.

“My favorite part is being a stray cat,” cast member Davis Tisdale said. “We get to throw cooking utensils around the stage and dance on big car tires.”

Ashley Almada, who is in several dances in the show, said, “I love the goose dance because it is so sharp and march-like. The blizzard dance is so graceful, and our capes make us feel like snow.”

The choreography is provided by Denise Rinaldi of the Santa Barbara Ballet Center and Christina McCarthy. Technical direction is by Dave Guy, and local artist Kira Jones is designing the costumes. 

The show is perfect for all ages. Young and old will delight in the whimsical characters, funny dialogue, moving songs and spectacular dance numbers — and hopefully all will come away with the message that being different is something to be welcomed, embraced and celebrated. 

Performances will be at 7 p.m. April 16-17 and 2 p.m. April 18. All shows will be at the Goleta Valley Junior High School auditorium, 6100 Stow Canyon Road in Goleta.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and children. They may be purchased at the school or at the door. For more information, e-mail cross@gvjh.org.

— Debbie Paras is the publicity chairwoman for Goleta Valley Junior High School’s Honk!.