If you're going to borrow, you might as well borrow from the best. Theatre IV's latest children's show takes its inspiration from the familiar Hans Christian Andersen tale of a funny-looking fowl assumed to be a baby duck. But in this version, written by Richard Giersch, little Honker Quacker (Eric Pastore) travels from his pond through the woods to confront a nasty magical villain and accumulates a few misfit friends along his path to self-discovery.
Though the Emerald City isn't his ultimate destination, you may find yourself expecting his road to be paved with yellow bricks.
Still, even the youngest children will enjoy meeting the dirt-averse Madeline the Mole (Aly Wepplo), the unfortunately-coiffed Harry the Eagle (Durron Tyre) and the moderately dastardly Snaggle-Claw (Gordon Bass). Wepplo and Tyre make the most of their slapstick pratfalls and Bass chews the scenery with gusto.
For the grown-ups, the teenage Pastore has the opportunity to show his significant vocal chops in a beautiful duet with Ali Thibodeau, who plays the cursed Princess Melissa. And, just as the original tale's moral seems about to be lost, the show brings it home with an insanely catchy final song about inner beauty that will burrow into the minds of kids and adults alike. S
“The Ugly Duckling” plays at the Empire Theatre, 114 W. Broad St., through Oct. 18. Tickets are $15. Call 344-8040 for details.