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Summer Musical Goes Out with a "Honk!"

The Omaha Public Schools summer musical had a new backdrop this year, a real sunset.

"We've done summer musicals for years, but this is the first time we've ever held a musical production outside like this," said Erienne Wredt, Benson High theater teacher and co-director of the summer musical. "All of us have really enjoyed finding solutions to the many challenges of hosting the musical outdoors, and we're so excited with how everything turned out."

"Honk!" the Musical revolves around Ugly, a swan who is mistaken as an ugly duckling. When Ugly gets lost one day, he meets a host of barnyard friends and foes on an adventure to get back home. Students from across the district performed outside Buffett Middle School on June 30 and July 1.

"It really was a creative thinking puzzle this year, but it was amazing to see our students step up and do such phenomenal work," said Tony Schik, Beveridge Middle drama teacher and co-director of the summer musical. "From tech kids making the set and lighting, the performers up on stage and the pit orchestra, this was such an awesome opportunity for all of our students to showcase their wide variety of talents."

DeVon Richards, an incoming freshman at Central High, played the Bullfrog, a friendly character who teaches Ugly that someday he’ll meet someone who will love him "Warts and All."

"The Bullfrog was great to play because he's really self-confident and is there to help out Ugly when he's down," said Richards. "I like putting myself into other people’s shoes and that’s exactly what I’m doing on stage, so it’s been great to do that again this summer."

Taylor Bartlett, a sophomore at South High, played the part of Queenie, a domesticated cat who is not a fan of Ugly showing up uninvited to her cottage.

"It’s really cool to see this all come to life," said Bartlett. "We started practicing on high school stages, but to be on the outdoor set and actually see it all put together has been so exciting."

Even graduating seniors stepped on stage for one last summer adventure.

Shane Waits, a 2021 graduate of Central High, returned for his seventh and final summer musical with Omaha Public Schools. Waits plays Barnacles, a member of the goose squadron that helps Ugly find his mother in "A Wild Goose Chase."

"I love seeing the talent of the new kids each year, and the growth of kids I’ve worked with multiple times before is incredible," said Waits. "You really get to see their talent on stage and their hard work during practice."

Watch the video below for rehearsal highlights from this year's summer musical, "Honk!"