Shakespeare Santa Cruz and the UCSC Theater Arts Department kick off their 14th annual holiday co-production on November 16 with Honk!--a musical re-telling of “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen.

Written by Anthony Drewe (Book and Lyrics) and George Stiles (Music), Honk! played London’s West End in 1999, winning an Olivier Award for Best Musical in 2000.

The annual holiday extravaganza—now an eagerly anticipated tradition in Santa Cruz—has the additional benefit of providing opportunities for advanced UCSC students in Theater Arts to gain valuable experience working alongside top professionals in the field. 

“We are lucky this year to have the involvement of three Theater Arts faculty members who are working as the professional designers on the production,” noted Kyle Clausen, managing director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz.

“Professor and department chair David Cuthbert is serving as Lighting Designer, associate professor Kate Edmunds as Scenic Designer, and associate professor Brandin Barón as Costume Designer. They are all highly accomplished in their fields, and this is an amazing opportunity for the over 40 students involved in the production to apply skills they’ve learned in the classroom.”

“It’s truly a UCSC style of learning,” Clausen added.

Clausen observed that the holiday show is also an opportunity for Shakespeare Santa Cruz to welcome thousands of young people who attend either with their families, or as part of a school group, at one of the show’s special weekday matinees. 

“This is not only the first exposure to live theater for many of these students, but it also gives the school group an opportunity to learn about how theater is created--by participating in backstage tours, and getting opportunities to ask questions to the artists and technicians,” said Clausen.

“We are grateful for the support of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation whose underwriting has made this experience accessible for all students,” he added.

Based on the popular children’s story “The Ugly Duckling,” Honk! tells the story of a duckling--not quite like the rest--who discovers his own true beauty and finds love and acceptance along the way. Best of all, it’s a comedy suitable for kids and adults of all ages. 

The show runs through December 9 at the Mainstage Theater, located in UCSC’s Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are available at santacruztickets.com or at the UCSC Box Office, (831) 459-2159.

For more information about Shakespeare Santa Cruz, visit the SSC web site.