NEWTON, NJ—The Halsted Players presented Honk Jr., the story of the ugly duckling, on March 19 and March 21.

Directed by Meg Penny and Jocelyn Keppler, with musical help from Kara Hartzell, the story of the ugly duckling took to the stage.

Nancy Owens, a secretary at Halsted Middle School, helped with the programs and tickets for the play. She said that she helps with the play because “It’s all about the kids. I love my job and it’s just about the kids and developing them into something for when they go into high school. Some of the kids who are in the acting programs now are continuing on with it when they get to the high school.

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The cast of Honk Jr. was made up of 53 students from fifth through eighth grade. For the second year, two homeschool students Miranda and Eva Paternoster joined in the cast on the Halsted stage. “It’s been a great experience. We’ve made a lot of new friends and we got to learn how the school works. We also take the music program that is offered here,” commented both girls.

The cast was also joined by grammar school student Danielle Penny, who said that she enjoys watching the bigger kids practicing. “It gives me a feeling of how it would be like to be in the play and have a big part. I also get to spend time studying how good they are and what I would do if I was up there.”

Hartzell, who is the music director for the play said, “It’s been wonderful working with the kids this year. They are a very talented group and they put in a lot of effort to make it a great show, even with all the snow we had this year and it’s just been a lot of fun to work with them.”

Honk Jr was written in 2002 and was based off of the original adult-performed production of “Honk!” in 1997. This show was written so that younger actors and actresses would be able to perform it as well.

“This was a fun choice for us this year. We picked this show in particular because the fifth grade moved up here from Merriam so we wanted to pick something that spoke to all the grade levels. We wanted something that was enough of a challenge for the older kids but it was still something that the younger kids could be a large part of. This particular show is based on the story of the ugly duckling so it has a beautiful message for middle school students especially,” said Penny, director of the play.

Due to the snow on Friday, March 20, the show was cancelled and moved to the following day Saturday, March 21, where the cast had a double header. Their first show began at 2 p.m. and the second show began at 7 p.m.