"Leftover crew" refers to anyone who didn't have a job for the show. Usually ends up being ushers (like me) or people selling concessions. Or dressing up as a giant chocolate bar but that usually doesn't happen during this particular show.
I'd also like to clarify that this isn't a story about the actual characters of HONK!, rather the people involved in the production of the show. Sorry if that's not what you were looking for, last I checked there were about two other fics you could read if you were in the mood for something like that.
"Look at him! Did you ever see a finer bird?" A collection of school-aged children crowded around one of their peers, singing as they pointed him out. They were all adorned in brightly-colored capes made of fabric feathers, swishing them around like they were flapping wings.
"Hark at him, 'cause his honking is the best we've heard!" All the bird-children scurried around, sorting themselves into groups as they continued their song and dance for the lead, a joyous young bird all in white.
Several members of the goose squadron danced halfheartedly at one end of the stage. One of the geese was particularly lifeless in his movements, luckily kept from the center of attention while the main cast twirled and pointed with pizazz and flair.
"Look at him, look at us, see the difference. Why did we—"
"Stop, stop everything!" the drama teacher cried. Immediately all of the students froze, the pianist stopping with her fingers just above the keys. She pointed out one of the geese, a taller boy trying to keep his wing hidden from the audience. "Tucker, what happened to your wing?"
The young actor shifted uncomfortably onstage. "Well, I—"
"No!" she interrupted before he could give her an excuse. Turning to the leftover crew lounging in the auditorium seats she yelled, "One of you! Go fix his wing!"
They seemed to squirm in their seats, refusing to so much as begin to raise their hand. Rolling her eyes, she pointed out a single student.
"Candy! Go with Tucker and fix his wing. And be quick!"
"Don't you argue with me!"
Frightened, Candy managed to free herself from the seat, waving over Tucker.
As they exited the auditorium they could hear Ms. Norton shouting, "Now, let's take it from the top of the Look At Him reprise!"
"So you ripped your wing," Candy said, taking a gander at Tucker's costume. It was yet another of the capes decorated with an assortment of army green, tan, and yellow feathers cut out of fabric. Down the side of one of the wings had a tear in it, several of the feathers either hanging off or missing outright, revealing the tan fabric beneath.
"During one of the dances," he responded tersely. "It got caught on something. I didn't want to tell Ms. Norton."
"Well you're supposed to tell her."
"That doesn't mean I want to."
"Fair point. Just be glad the show isn't until next week, otherwise you'd be in a lot of trouble."
"Shut up," he scoffed. Rushing forward, he entered the drama classroom. Candy sighed, trailing after him.
The drama room, while normally well-organized with desks in neat rows, was in disarray. Numerous shades of fabric were strewn across the desks, while a corner of the classroom was cleared out for the tech crew to work on props. Tucker strode over to a desk, plopping himself down in one of the blue plastic chairs.
"Stitch me up, doc."
Sighing Candy went over to the stack of drawers, cracking her knuckles as she prepared to fix Tucker's wing.
"Doesn't your character get shot out of the sky at the end of act one?" She bent down, searching for a spare needle.
"Yeah. What about it?"
"First of all, you totally would've bled out. And second, when you all come back for the curtain call, you've got a bandage wrapped around your shin."
"Is there going to be a point to this?"
"You shouldn't be able to walk, let alone dance around."
"You're reading way too deep into this. It's not even that good of a show, I don't get why everyone acts like we're on Broadway doing this."
"Yes, but what else do you expect me to do? I get to stand around and watch the whole thing at least five times in the next week."
"And whose fault is that?"
"Just let me fix your wing. Remind me, what exactly did you do to it?" Candy asked, carefully trying to thread her needle.
"That's not important," he muttered, holding out his arm.
"Well whatever you did, don't do it again."
Gripping his arm gently, Candy begin to stitch the pieces of fabric onto cape. Her hands moved deftly, attaching the feathers with ease. Tucker sat there, his arm growing tired as he continued to hold it out. A bored expression began to form on his face. Whenever his arm drooped Candy grabbed it again and held it upright.
"Look, if you don't keep your arm still this is going to take forever."
Tucker rolled his eyes, trying to continue holding it out.
"It actually wasn't during a dance," he muttered. Candy paused, the needle inches from his exposed flesh.
"Well then what were you doing?"
"I was trying to do something," he grumbled, focusing his gaze on the desk.
"I couldn't hear you."
"I said I was trying to do something. I tried to climb up onto something backstage, it was stupid."
"Why would you do that? You're an actor, you actually have something to do in that show."
"I said it was something stupid. Just don't tell Norton, please."
"I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But you're acting, people care if something happens to you. If you're too busy climbing on stuff backstage this show—your scene—isn't going to work out."
"You try sitting around for half the show, waiting for your cue."
"Hey, at least you had a cue."
"Well I'm sorry you couldn't make it to the tech rehearsal."
Scoffing, Candy continued to stitch with a newfound fervor. Occasionally the needle would prick Tucker's skin, prompting him to flinch or yelp, to which she responded with even more furious stitching.
"You ever think of actually acting?" Tucker said, casually tapping the fingers of his free hand on the desk.
"I've considered it once or twice," she shrugged, still focused on the wing. "But it's not the kind of thing I'd feel comfortable doing, the whole performing thing."
"Aren't you in the orchestra or something?"
"Well yes, and—"
"Then why don't you actually do the musical?"
"Because can I dance? Can I act? Not really. And I hate crowds when I have to actually look at them."
"But have you—"
"Look, Tucker," she interrupted, putting the needle down. "I'm not like you. I don't like getting up onstage and singing and dancing in front of all those people."
"Your wing's done, you can go back with all your actor friends." Sighing she got up from the desk, all but storming out of the drama room. Tucker lingered in the chair, thinking for a moment, should he go after her?
"Wait!" he called out as he slipped out of the classroom. She hesitated, turning around. Already her face was flushed, tears pricking her eyes. Tucker caught up to her, stopping just inches from her. "Candy."
"Look, I'm sorry for getting so—"
"No, it's fine," he interrupted. "If anyone should be sorry it's me. I shouldn't have pried like that."
"Hey, I shouldn't have blown up like that. But I was serious when I said I didn't want to be up onstage like that. I guess…" She searched for the words, trying to avoid eye contact with him. "Let me put this into terms you'll be able to understand. They end up praising Ugly for, well, being different. But it's not always like that, standing out is a nightmare."
"Then just be in the ensemble or something. There're at least a dozen of us, it's hard to stick out."
"Believe me," she chuckled, her usual smile beginning to return. "I've caught more than a few mistakes from the ensemble, it's very easy to stick out."
"You're not going to be able to just blend in your whole life." Tucker lowered his voice to a much more serious tone, bringing himself close to Candy. "Like it or not you'll have to do something. Don't you want to be anything?"
"Yes, I do, and that's why I can't stand the fact that I'm like this."
"Then get up onstage. 'Cause out there, someone's gonna lo—"
"Stop it," she laughed, shoving him lightly. "Let's just get back before Ms. Norton yells at us again."
"Finally, you're back!" Mrs. Norton shouted, gesturing to the stage crowded with actors. "Get in place, we need to do the curtain call!"
Tucker bolted as carefully as he could through the auditorium, jumping up onto the stage. Almost immediately the drama teacher began shuffling them around, getting them into groups for their curtain call.
Candy sat sprawled across two or three of the auditorium seats, absentmindedly watching the cast run through the curtain call. She and the other leftover crew clapped whenever a set of characters came onstage to take their bows—the snow dancers, the frogs, the rest of the birds from the farm. When the geese came out she perked up, seeing Tucker with a wide yet artificial smile plastered on his face.
Tucker looked out into the audience, spotting Candy among the auditorium seats. She grinned at him, giving him a little wave that Mrs. Norton wouldn't see. His own smile seemed to warm up, less of a character's expression and more genuine human emotion.
Eventually the leads came onstage and was met with thunderous applause from cast and crew alike. The lot of them rearranged themselves on the cramped stage, getting into places as they sang one last song.
"Out there, someone's gonna love ya, someone's gonna love ya, warts and all." The whole cast sang together in a few lines, with the mains clustered towards the center. Candy looked up from the audience, seeing Tucker dance with the others like he meant it. He made brief eye contact with Candy, winking at her as they finished the dance.
He was right. Someone would love her, warts and all.
Oh boy I hope they weren't too mature for a bunch of middle school students, I don't think about those days if I can help it. Also, if this seemed so much deeper than I let on, it... it kind of was. But I'm leaving it at that. Let you guys guess at what exactly happened in my middle school production of HONK! that left such an impact. Regardless, hope you all enjoyed that. It was certainly a blast to the past on my end. Stay zesty, my dudes.