Feathered Star Missing as 'Ducktastic!' Debuts

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Theater producer David Pugh's Ducktastic! has opened in London's West End, though the show's star — Daphne — turned up missing two days before opening night. Who or what could lie behind the disappearance?

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This week in London's West End, a budding star went missing. Her name is Daphne, and the police might be calling the crime a ducknapping. Daphne is a pure white Indian runner duck and was due to star in a new show called "Ducktastic." The show opened Thursday. It's directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced by David Pugh. Mr. Pugh joins us now from London.

Mr. Pugh, first off, condolences on your loss.

Mr. DAVID PUGH (Producer, "Ducktastic"): Thank you very much. It's a very sad time for us. However, Daphne, of course, was the star of the show, but Sabre, her understudy, I have to say that she performed extremely well and the critics have heralded him as a new star of the West End.

SIMON: I don't mean to make this like an episode of "Law and Order" here, but, I mean, if an understudy is doing so well, well, wouldn't that be the first natural suspicion among police officers, that the understudy had done something?

Mr. PUGH: I can understand you, Scott, taking that sort of lead on that...

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. PUGH: ...but everybody within the theater, and the ducks included, have been thoroughly checked out.

SIMON: It would help us to understand the show a bit.

Mr. PUGH: It's about a British magician who was actually--went to Vegas for the bright lights and he was very successful. He had a lunchtime magic show with various different animals. Unfortunately, one of his orangutans escaped during one of the tricks and mated an orangutan lady out of one of the front row. He was banned from Vegas. All his animal licenses were taken away from him accept for a single duck. And they create this phenomenal magic show and the rest I will leave to whenever your listeners come over to London, they can see the show.

SIMON: Knowing that area, a possibility that I'm sure you've considered. The West End is just adjacent to Chinatown and ducks often make a different kind of appearance in Chinatown...

Mr. PUGH: Well, you're just trying to compound my grief at the moment. I did go around a few of the local hostelries and restaurants and inspected their kitchens. We, again, came to nothing.

SIMON: Is Scotland Yard on the case?

Mr. PUGH: Yes, they are.

SIMON: Yeah. I mean, United Kingdom has a number of famous animal rights and welfare groups.

Mr. PUGH: Yes.

SIMON: You must wonder if some of these groups think that by appearing in a West End production, Daphne is being deprived of her duckdom in a sense.

Mr. PUGH: We had full and frank discussions with a group called PETA. I think they also exist in America...

SIMON: Oh, gosh, yeah.

Mr. PUGH: ...the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and PETA, though they will never agree with us philosophically about performing animals, have actually said that the way that we're approaching it is as close as we can get.

SIMON: Is there a reward for Daphne's return?

Mr. PUGH: There is actually. It's 5,000 pounds and six duck eggs.

SIMON: Good luck to you, sir.

Mr. PUGH: Thank you very much.

SIMON: David Pugh is the producer of "Ducktastic" which opened Thursday at the Albery Theatre in London's West End.

Twenty-two minutes before the hour.

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