Great Egg-spectations - Ellie Nunn on playing Ida in Honk! the Musical

Posted on 3 June 2019

With Stiles and Drewe’s Olivier Award-winning musical Honk! set to open at the Belgrade Theatre tomorrow, Ellie Nunn, who plays mother duck Ida, told us more about what to expect from the show. You can catch the critically acclaimed show here in Coventry from 4-8 June.

As a very very VERY serious actor I’ve done it all, the tears, the screaming, I’ve even thrown a few chairs in my time.* So when the opportunity to perform in Honk! came along, bottom lip wobbling and ugly crying on my knees, but as a DUCK – well, that was too good to pass up. So allow me to muse on the very serious business of playing a grieving duck.


Ida really does go through it all in this show: sheer elation, unbearable sadness, childbirth… it’s a big two hours, and genuinely exhausting to do. Whilst it never stops being funny to me that we end up having vast, in-depth conversations about the marital turmoil that manifests in this piece and the whole time THEY ARE DUCKS, at the heart of the show are some pretty powerful themes, predominantly enormous grief. Ida’s loss is devastating and her relentless belief that she will be reunited with her son gets me every time. When performing in DH Lawrence’s phenomenal play The Daughter in Law earlier this year, I literally beat my chest to the point of bruising, and yet Honk! is the only production I’ve been in where I have been moved to tears every night without exception.


Whilst I put a lot of this down to the narrative in which one mother fights for her child against everyone, leaves everything she knows in order to find him, and THEN HAS TO LET HIM GO (I mean I’m tearing up right here on the London Overground), undoubtedly a lot of it also comes from the music. I like to think music bypasses the brain and goes straight to the heart, and in this show, the music continually catches me off-guard and makes me weep, which makes my job very easy.

It is a total joy to perform in this production. I loved it two years ago at the Union Theatre in London and I’ve loved returning to it now. It has so much soul it can barely be contained. At the heart of a show supposedly about poultry are extremely human emotions, and I think that’s why we look out to several very weepy mothers and fathers in the audience each night.


Ultimately, the show tells us to believe in ourselves, to hold our children tight whilst we have them by our side and appreciate every moment, and that there is nothing stronger than a mother’s love.

*Please note no chairs are thrown in this production.

Honk! the Musical runs on our B2 stage from Tuesday 4 until Saturday 8 June. Tickets are available to book now.