Honk! The Musical in Doha

Musical retelling of the Ugly Duckling story at Sherborne-Qatar School

Honk! The Musical in Doha

Ross Mitchell, subject leader for drama at the Sherborne-Qatar School, tells us all about his first musical with the students.

What is the show?
The show is Honk! The Musical, which is an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Ugly Duckling. It has a lovely modern day feel of a very traditional tale. It is a collaboration by the British Musical Theatre duo Anthony Drewe and George Stiles and won an Olivier Award back in 2001, four years after its debut in London’s West End.

The drama program is new at the school. So why are the arts so important for school kids?
At Sherborne Qatar, all pupils are encouraged to shine in as many ways as they can. Academic success is vital, of course, but there is so much talent in drama and the other arts that we want to give opportunities such as this one to all children, so that they will be successful and share their enjoyment with others. Drama is a wholesome subject in which children benefit from the confidence and self-esteem that it brings and that is our main challenge whilst residing in Qatar. We would love to see as many children from near and far involved in drama and the development of the arts in a country where they are still growing. This is possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity for the children and we want them to make the most of it in front of full houses.

Why do this show?
The show is fun, highly energised and allows the children involved to challenge themselves and their character-driven performances. The storyline is very traditional, but allows creativity and artistic licence.

Who are the performers? Where are they from?
There is a huge variety of children of all different shapes and sizes from all around the world. The production will be a multi-cultural performance with the cast coming from Qatar, England, America, Ireland, India, New Zealand, Egypt, South Africa, Germany and Canada. There are around 50 pupils in total involved in the production aged between 11 and 15. All the pupils have taken brilliantly to the newly introduced subject at the school.

What are they like as actors?
They are raw to the concept of performance and the discipline that comes with it, which is extremely exciting. The cast are working very hard to overcome their nerves and to channel them into positive performance. I really admire the way as a cast they are fearless, willing to take risks and to challenge themselves to be better.

What sort of reaction are you expecting from the audience?
The show is a real crowd pleaser that will take the audience through a roller coaster of emotions as they follow the journey of the Ugly Duckling and the other members of the farmyard. The children play the heightened characters with great reality and maturity, which will leave the audience forgetting they are watching a school production.

What’s your favourite part?
As much as I love the rehearsal process, my favourite part is always watching it all come together after many months of hard work and dedication by all those involved. The amazing feeling of a full auditorium and the dimming of the house lights is something that I cannot wait to experience with this talented group of children.

What’s the best part of the show?
Well, I wouldn’t want to give too much away about the plot of the story, but the ending is something that I personally love. There are plenty of lump in the back of your throat moments.
Honk! The Musical hits the stage at Al Rayyan Theatre, Souq Waqif March 26-27 at 6.30pm. Tickets are QR60 for adults, available from Virgin Megastore. Email rmitchell@sherborneqatar.org.

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