CYT brings HONK! to Rockton: the story of the Ugly Duckling


Camille and Lydia backstage during dress rehearsals of Honk! at Hononegah Performing Arts Centre. Photos: Abby Clarke

HONK!, presented by CYT Rockford, opens Feb. 9-11, 2024, at Hononegah Performing Arts Centre.

In this musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's beloved story, the duckling Ugly (played by Isaiah Stauffer) looks quite a bit different from his darling brothers and sisters. The other animals on the farm are quick to notice and point this out, despite his mother's (Mellie Berkman) protective flapping. Feeling rather foul about himself, the little fowl finds himself on an adventure of self-discovery, all the while unknowingly being chased by a very hungry cat (Noah Ceniseros). Along the way, Ugly meets a whole flock of unique characters and finds out being different is not a bad thing to be.

London's West End production won the 2000 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical.

Dates / Times:

  • Friday, Feb 9th @ 7:00pm
  • Saturday, Feb 10th @ 2:00pm
  • Saturday, Feb 10th @ 6:00pm
  • Sunday, Feb 11th @ 2:00pm

More information and tickets

Tickets: $17 each

Previous CYT shows at Hononegah Performing Arts Centre in Rockton have included The Lion King Jr. , Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, Annie Jr., Madagascar Jr., The Spongebob Musical, Willy Wonka Jr., and A Christmas Carol.

If you're a fan of CYT Rockford, you have seen many of the actors in HONK! before. Isaiah Stauffer, the not-so-ugly duckling, played the beloved meerkat Timon in The Lion King, the less beloved Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka Jr.,  and Larry the Lobster in The SpongeBob MusicalNate Kenrick, who plays the non-nonsense goose commander Greylag, previously appeared as the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, Mike Teevee in Willy Wonka Jr., Plankton in The SpongeBob Musical, Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, Bob Cratchitt in A Christmas Carol, and Mason the Chimp in Madagascar Jr.  Lorelai and Courtney Fishe have appeared in many previous shows, such as The Lion KingMadagascar Jr., and The Wizard of Oz.

Like most of the cast, Mellie Berkman is a veteran of many previous shows (along with her siblings), but her role as Ugly's adoptive mother Ida marks one of her largest roles to date. Josh Rundblade, who was Uncle Henry in Wizard of Oz, plays Ida's mate, Drake.  Like Berkman, Gillian Nothnagel (who plays a sympathetic but outspoken mother duck) has been a dancer and singer in many previous shows - but had the title role in Willie Wonka.  Noah Ceniseros, who plays the villainous Cat this time, played the heroic Simba in The Lion King, LeFou in Beauty and the Beast, and as Charlie's father Mr. Bucket in Willy Wonka Jr..  Lauren Tibbetts, who plays the hen Lowbutt here, was the loveable warthog Pumbaa in The Lion King, Beauty's inventing mother in Beauty and the Beast, and Grandma Georgina in Willy Wonka Jr.

Auditions for CYT Rockford's May 2024 show, The Little Mermaid, will open on Mar. 1, and is open to those who are currently enrolled in a CYT class, which start March 4.

Since 1980, CYT has become the largest children’s theater organization in the country with more than 38 locations in 25 different cities and enrolling 18,000 students annually. The Rockford chapter is part of CYT Chicago, which produces 18 of these musical theater productions each year in 10 different areas in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Props, sets, and costumes come from CYT Chicago's warehouse in Cary, IL (you can rent them too - from more than 40 different shows).

CYT as a theater school offers classes in dance, improv, drama and/or singing to the public for various age levels from 8 to 18. Children ages 5-7 aren't in the big stage musicals, but Tune Town teaches them audition preparation, dance, acting, rhythm and singing.


  • Ugly: Isaiah Stauffer
  • Ida: Mellie Berkman
  • Drake: Josh Rundblade
  • The Cat: Noah Ceniseros
  • Maureen: Gillian Nothnagel
  • Greylag: Nate Kenrick
  • Dot: Lorelai Fishe
  • Bullfrog: Jackson Steiner
  • Queenie: Courtney Fishe
  • Lowbutt: Lauren Tibbetts
Ducklings and geese play Uno while waiting to go onstage during dress rehearsal of Honk! Front row: Kathleen, Camille back row: Cruz, Cole W. Photo: Abby Clarke


  • Beaky: Cruz Negrete
  • Fluff: Lydia Derry
  • Billy: Kathleen Derry
  • Downy: Camille Juliano
  • Penny: Kaitlynn Rundblade
  • Father Swan: Cooper Wellen
  • Mother Swan: MayBell Berkman
  • Bewick: Parker Brockett

Blizzard/Fish Dancers

  • Aleyah Bailey
  • Lorelai Fishe
  • Courtney Fishe
  • Liviana Negrete
  • Kaitlynn Rundblade
  • Kate Schemel
  • Ila Steines
Geese in goggles and barnyard characters. Front row: Lucia, Makenna; second row: Chloe; third row: Lilia; back row: Jaelyn. Photo: Abby Clarke


  • Barnacles: Cole Young
  • Snowy: Cole Wellen
  • Pinkfoot: Lilia Anucauskas
  • MayBell Berkman
  • Emma Grace Butler
  • Lucia Delay
  • Olivia Flood
  • Sophie Pauli
  • Chloe Skirtich
  • Jackson Steiner
  • Lauren Tibbetts
  • Melody Wright
Genny, Olivia, Izzy. Photo: Abby Clarke


  • Brielle Bailey
  • Kennedy Bell
  • Parker Brockett
  • Quinn Brothers
  • Caden Conklin
  • Harper Hoskinson
  • Ava Johnston
  • Isabelle Stauffer
Front row: Mila, Sawyer; back row: Kennedy, Paisley. Photo: Abby Clarke

Barnyard Farm Animals

  • The Turkey/Barnyard: Rayce Dempsey
  • Henrietta/Barnyard: Molly Matuska*
  • Grace/Barnyard: Genny Vanderheiden
  • Maggie Pie/Barnyard: Jordan Helgerson
  • Floor Manager/Barnyard: Cooper Wellen*
  • Camera Crew/Barnyard: Kallie Stevens
  • Maureen’s Duckling/Barnyard: Orson Steines
  • Maureen’s Duckling/Barnyard: Makenah Schwanebeck
  • Stork/Barnyard: Olivia Flood 
  • Paisley Brockett
  • Jaelyn Fletcher 
  • Nate Kenrick
  • Mila Petrovich
  • Sawyer Skirtich


  • Farmer: Cooper Wellen
  • Old Woman: Gillian Nothnagel
  • Young Boy: Cruz Negrete
  • Young Girl: Lydia Derry

*Denotes Solo in “The Blizzard”

Click, tap, or swipe the image below for photos from the show, courtesy of CYT Chicago.

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