The following is the public section of the show critique for our production of Honk!, by AIMS Adjudicator, Eleanor McCann-Gilsenan:
I just love "Honk!" and am delighted to see it being done more often. My daughters travelled to Roscommon Arts Centre to see it performed by Castlerea Musical Society. The first time we saw it was seven years ago when Tara was 2 and Rossa was in utero! It has been a firm favourite since.
The stage was set for us to see as we entered the auditorium - and what a lovely set. It was really well thought out and well constructed. A plain backdrop that was lit appropriately completed the setting. The costumes were imaginative and looked well. Make-up and hairstyles were complimentary to the costumes.
Choreography was devised by Vivienne Caldbeck-Moran. Small group numbers were slick and were suited to the show. I also liked the fact that many of the characters had movement well associated with their character. Bigger numbers, whilst being well thought out, lacked drive and I felt the cast needed to be giving us lots more effort. One number died completely.
Ugly was performed by Kieran Croghan. I liked his performance a great deal. He had a vulnerability that was very effective. He sang out well to the audience and diction was good. I felt he rather lost his way in "I've seen you". His mother Ida was performed by Julie Connolly. She sang well and has a lovely voice. I felt her characterization needed more attention. She was at her best when working one to one and I felt in group scenes her cue bite wasn't just up to the mark. As Drake I liked David Cooke's manner on stage - it had a flighty air to it. His accent was rather insecure. I have seen it performed with Dublin accents and Northern Irish accents and it has worked well - when we did it we kept our accents and changed the first line to "In this backwater of Ireland" - cheating, I know!
A Maureen I felt Natasha McGarry had a great busybody manner. She could have slowed down her delivery to make sure we got all the humour in her part.
What can I say about Daniel Doherty as Cat. He was super. It was a magnificent all round performance.
As Bullfrog I felt Mr. Duffy had a good presence. He needed to keep his scene moving - it dragged slightly. I really enjoyed Ivan Moran and Caroline Madigan as Greylag and Dot. Their scene was really funny. They did their best to keep "Wild Goose Chase" going but the chorus struggled with it and it came across as overly long. Frances Cooke and Olivia McGarry performed Lowbutt and Queenie. They gave good solid performances and their scene flowed well. Jackdaw (some societies call him Charlie Bird) was performed by Nial Tully. He had a nice oily manner as the journalist but needed to give his scenes more direction and not drag them out. I couldn't believe Maria Heavey as Penny. I recall her in "Me & My Girl" and recall her as being so feisty. Here she had a lovely gentle manner for Penny. As her mother Catherine O'Rourke had a very regal manner and voice. All other roles were well performed though I feel a decision needed to be taken about accents. If in doubt about it keep it out!
Musically it was a secure show. The chorus, under the direction of Heather Shine, was well prepared. Unfortunately whilst they sang with smile and were clearly enjoying themselves they had no real drive. It needed more "Oomph! - I know it isn't the greatest word but it is a very useful one! The band, under the direction of Dr. Joe Ryan, gave a solid base for the singing. One or two numbers were slightly too fast and the performers struggled with their words. Sound levels were generally good. What I struggled to hear could have been sorted by my old friends diction and projection!
This was a 40th anniversary show for Castlerea Musical Society and director Michael Coen helped them produce a show to be proud of. It was a fun evening and a visual treat.
May you have forty more years of shows like this.