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The Independent Culture
How incestuous can you get? As Julie Andrews once remarked: "Let's start at the very beginning." When Laurence Olivier ran the National Theatre at the Old Vic, he wanted to mount Frank Loesser's great musical Guys and Dolls, but it wasn't until decades later, when Richard Eyre was at the helm, that it actually happened. Loesser also wrote the film Hans Christian Andersen which opened with "Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen/ Salty old queen of the sea", sung by Danny Kaye, who, it is alleged, once had an affair with Olivier. Meantime, back at the movie, Kaye also sang "There once was an ugly duckling/With feathers all stubby and brown".

That leads us back to the National, which has just opened its Christmas show: Honk! The Ugly Duckling.

This comes from the same crack British team of Anthony Drewe (book and lyrics) and George Stiles (music) that wrote Just So, the musical based on stories by Kipling (as in Rudyard, rather than cakes) which was directed by former National Theatre actress Julia McKenzie. She's in charge once again, with a cast led by the great Beverley Klein, who brought the house down as the Old Lady with One Buttock in the National's Candide and stole hearts as Simon Russell Beale's bustling wife in Summerfolk.

"Honk! The Ugly Duckling" National Theatre, London SE1 (0171-452 3000) in rep