Star Struck Musical Theatre Celebrates Family with Honk! A Musical Tale of the Ugly Duckling

by Praveena Raman
Tri-City Voice – November 4, 2003

On their new website at www.starstrucktheatre.org , Fremont’s Star Struck Musical Theatre invites the community to “Consider yourself part of our family!” and join them for a season of family entertainment.  In keeping with this they have announced their 2003-2004 season where, with the musicals Honk!, Oliver and Bye Bye Birdie, the community will explore how different families struggle together, grow together, help each other and make each other strong.  They will also experience what different people define as a family.

The season will open with Honk! a musical that was a big hit in London, winning the 2000 Laurence Olivier award and which was also named the best musical over Disney’s Lion King.   With a beautiful and sensational music score Honk! is a tender, witty comedy that touts individuality and drives home the message that being different is okay.  This musical fits in very well with the diversity that Fremont boasts.  It will remind children and adults to accept people for who they are and not what they look like because “out there somewhere someone’s gonna love ya, warts and all!”  The diversity is also seen in the 45-member cast of youth ranging in age from 7 to 18.  Children from different schools in Fremont, Pleasanton, San Leandro, San Ramon and Union City auditioned for the show before being selected.  More than half the cast is new to Star Struck including Jordan Aragon, an 8th grader at Centerville Junior High, who plays the lead role of Ugly.

At Right: What’s for Lunch? Duck L’Orange! Andrew Sa as the Cat and Jordan Aragon as Ugly in Star Struck Musical Theatre’s Honk!

Honk!  starts the seventh season for Star Struck Musical Theatre.   Director Lori Stokes is really excited to be moving to Ohlone College for this production.  Since 1997 Star Struck, which started out as Kids on Broadway, has been delighting the Fremont community with high quality full length musical productions. For many years they had performed at Broadway West Theatre, which has a limited capacity of about 80 seats.  Star Struck soon outgrew the space with sold out shows for all their productions.  Many disappointed people were turned away at the door.  Soon they had an opportunity to perform at a bigger venue at Mission San Jose High School.  This also gave Stokes a great opportunity to work with a larger cast giving more children the opportunity to develop their talents.

Fremont City Council member Steve Cho, who with his wife Amy has been a frequent attendee of Star Struck productions, says “the shows have been top notch and they provide a good opportunity for the kids.  One of the comments we often hear is that there is very little for people to do in Fremont.  Unfortunately very few people know it exists, this theater that puts on great performances.  It will be great if this opportunity can be made available to more people both for participating in the performing arts and for the public to see the results.”   School Board member Peggy Herndon who is a big supporter of the Arts, especially of children’s theatre, echoes his sentiments ”It [Star Struck] is a fabulous program.  All their productions have been top quality.  There can never be enough opportunities for children to explore their talents and grow.  The more opportunities we have like this the better.”

During the time of their move to Mission San Jose High School, Stokes was faced with another hurdle.  She lost her studio where the rehearsals took place for three months before a show opened.  After having a difficult nomadic existence for about two years, Stokes finally moved into her new studios this fall.  The 2,500 sq. foot studio is used for rehearsing, storing and building sets for their productions.

The move to Ohlone College has brought its own set of challenges.  Due to the heavy use of the Jackson Theatre by different community groups, Star Struck will only be able to move into the theatre space the week the show opens having just three days to put up the sets and have tech rehearsals for sound and lighting while getting the kids acquainted to the larger stage.

With all this Stokes says that she is thrilled to be at Ohlone College as “now we also have the opportunity to have 1200 elementary school students come to see the show as an assembly at a discounted price.  However we are doing this completely on our own, supporting this with the funds raised from the ticket sales.  We would love to have some corporations underwrite us or sponsor some part of the show and help us in this effort to bring theatre to all the children, so that no child is left behind.”  Stokes says that she will be back at Broadway West this spring with Oliver! as a joint production between Star Struck Musical Theatre and Broadway West Theatre.  However she will be back at Ohlone College this summer with Bye Bye Birdie which will be performed in the College’s amphitheatre.

Honk! is scheduled to open on December 19th, 2003 and will run through December 21st, 2003, with four public performances. Performances will be at Jackson Theatre, Ohlone College.  Performance days and times are Friday December 19 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday December 20 at 2:00 and at 7:30 p.m.  Star Struck is also doing a special show for the Ohlone Family series on Sunday December 21 at 2:00 p.m.  For information on Corporate or Community Sponsorship or to buy tickets visit the Star Struck website at www.starstrucktheatre.org.  Tickets for Honk! can also be bought by calling (510) 659-6031.  Ticket prices are Adults $18 and students/seniors $10.