“Honk, Jr.!” is one of the most touching shows to ever come to Summer Stage. It tells the story of a young duckling, Ugly, who is ostracized for his appearance. The abuse is so bad that he runs away from home. On his journey, Ugly meets a bullfrog, survives a blizzard and avoids the tricks of the Cat. Eventually, he transforms into a beautiful swan and learns that being different is just fine.
This tale of the ugly duckling is a modernized version of the original, which was written by Hans Christian Andersen. “Honk” was created by the same writers who brought “Mary Poppins” to Broadway. Andersen was bullied relentlessly as a child for his unusual appearance and strange voice. Biographers believe this bullying drove him to theater and writing.
Enter me, the sixth grade version. Shorter, fatter and having a voice resembling a soprano, sixth grade me entered Haverford Middle School with high hopes for a new place. Soon after beginning the school year, I learned that not everyone was as nice as the students I left behind at elementary school.
You have to believe in yourself. Bad times are temporary. Appearance isn’t everything.
I was bullied. I was bullied for being fat. I was bullied for being smart. I was, ironically, bullied in developmental guidance, the class that taught kids not to bully. It was unpleasant, to say the least. I tried to be mature and adult about everything (basically I just ignored it). Luckily for me, I soon stopped crossing paths with the boy responsible for my bullying. But the memory of it stayed with me, even to this day.
In my seventh grade year, I was introduced to “Honk.” The Haverford Middle School Theatre Company was performing it as their winter musical. I instantly fell in love with its messages. Being different is okay. You have to believe in yourself. Bad times are temporary. Appearance isn’t everything. They helped me get over my past experience with bullies. “Honk” made me more comfortable with my personality and with my body image.
Now I urge parents and children alike to come and see “Honk, Jr.!” and learn from it. In this age of online communication and body image worries, it is so important that kids learn that being themselves is wonderful. Don’t miss your chance to see this inspiring show, August 6-8 at Upper Darby Summer Stage.