The Prineville Music Theater Camp will present 'Honk! Jr.' this weekend at Pioneer Park

by: KEVIN SPERL  - The cast of Honk! Jr.

Brynn Hill and Romi Westenfelt have been a part of Prineville Music Theater Camp’s stage productions since its inception, five years ago.

“I like it because you can get out of your life for an hour and be someone else,” said Hill, a fifth-grader, of acting on stage. “Especially if there is a lot of stress in your life.”

Westenfelt, her sixth-grade friend, agreed.

“I’ve always loved to sing and the thrill of being on stage,” she said. “It just gives me this rush.”

For the fifth year, the two friends will join the rest of the cast in its presentation of “Honk! Jr.,” a community theater project sponsored by Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and Prineville’s Park and Recreation department.

Producer Kim Griffin has seen the theater project grow from a parent gathering at the church to Pioneer Park, filled with friends and neighbors, enjoying their presentations.

“These are kids who have lost most of the music and art they used to get as part of the school curriculum,” said Griffin. “We are on our way to realizing our goal of presenting a summer event to which all of Prineville looks forward to.”

“Honk!, Jr” is an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling,” telling the story of a bird born in a barnyard who suffers abuse from others until he matures into a beautiful swan.

Hill, who is cast in the lead as the Ugly Duckling, likes the story because she feels it teaches people not to judge others by their appearance.

“You never know who people are going to be,” she said.

The cast is under the direction of Michelle Moore, who chose this particular play because it offered a large variety of roles for the kids.

“I’ve done this play before and knew it had an opportunity for a lot of characters and lots of roles for all the kids,” she said. “There is not just one star, so we have 13 actors involved in the production.”

Hannah Jones and Kyler Michel play the Ugly Duckling’s parents, and both professed a love for being on stage, a common thread with the entire cast.

“I like getting to perform on stage,” said Jones. “I like seeing people enjoy the play and I like getting to sing.”

Jones is really happy to be playing the mother role, saying that, at first, she is the only one who appreciates Ugly for who he is.

“I don’t care about his looks,” she laughed. “I just like his personality, just like a mom.”

Michel expressed a love of acting, and singing, as well, but there is one thing that he especially likes about being the dad.

“I get to yell at everyone!” he laughed.

According to Griffin, the summer camp is open to all school-age children, 7 to 18, and has seen over 120 aspiring actors take the stage for its performances that, in past years, have included “Jungle Book,” “101 Dalmatians,” and “Seussical Jr.”

“We have discovered a few stars among the children that have participated in our program,” said Griffin, “But, beyond that, we have given many more kids the chance to shine in a new light and to develop skills they didn’t know they had.”

Moore brings over 20 years of experience as an elementary school music teacher and theater director. Along with the pastor of the Lutheran Church, Barbara Punch, and the funding support of the Crook County Parks and Recreation Foundation, Crook County Cultural Coalition, John and Linda Shelk Fund and Robert W. Chandler Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, Moore has been given an opportunity to grow the musical theater program, providing a low-cost arts experience to the community.

“There is something to do and a way to participate for every child that wants to be a part of this,” explained Griffin. “But, without the tremendous support of the community, our camp would never happen.”

The Prineville Music Theater Camp presents “Honk! Jr.” this Friday, July 25, and Saturday, July 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Pioneer Park Stage. For more information, call 541-447-7526, or 541-410-7063.

The Cast of “Honk! Jr.” Brynn Hill, the Ugly Duckling

Hannah Jones, Ida, Ugly's Mother

Kyler Michel, Drake, Ugly's Dad

Romi Westenfelt, the Cat

Eric Michel, Beaky (sibling)

Isabella Ogborn, Downy (sibling) Penny (swan)

Akeira Moncada, Fluff (sibling)

Hope Smith, Maureen (a hen and Greylag (a goose))

Gayla Smith, Grace (a duck) and Dot (a goose)

Wylee Chavez (Turkey and the Bullfrog)

Jaedon Churchill-Dicks, Jaybird

Tre DuPont, Father Swan and Camera Man

Joe Whitlatch, Sound guy and the Farmer

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