From Page to Stage: Tuck Everlasting Opens on Broadway

From Page to Stage: Tuck Everlasting Opens on Broadway

If you had the chance to live forever—would you take it? Tuck Everlasting, the new Broadway musical based off of Natalie Babbitt’s novel of the same name, asks that very question and beautifully portrays the pros and cons of eternal life.

A year after the death of her father, 11-year-old Winnie Foster wants to take a break from her still-somber household and spend an evening at the fair that has just come to her tiny New Hampshire town. When her mom says no, Winnie chooses her own adventure and heads into the woods on her family’s property. There, Winnie comes across 17-year-old Jesse Tuck who has a thirst for making the most out of life… it’s just that his life has been going on for 102 years so far and there’s no end in sight. Jesse and his family drank from a magic spring in the woods and have stayed the same ages while life continued to move on around them. The Tucks aren’t happy that an outsider knows their secret, but are quick to trust Winnie. The only problem is, there’s someone else in town who knows about them and he’ll do anything he can to get his hands on the secret to everlasting life.

Tuck Everlasting’s powerful themes of love and loss are delivered through heartfelt moments among characters thanks to Claudia Shear and Tim Federle’s thoughtful book. The hopefulness of Babbitt’s novel translates well to the stage and it amazes me that this show didn’t come to Broadway sooner (after being in development and performed out-of-town for several years).

Nathan Tysen’s lyrics set to Chris Miller’s gorgeous music has me so excited for the cast album. The opening number “Live Like This” perfectly sets up all the characters and the joys or struggles with where their lives are at the moment. Winnie’s solos (“Good Girl Winnie Foster” and “Everlasting”) left me in awe of Sarah Charles Lewis, an actual 11-year-old who completely owns the stage and competently carries the company. One of my favorite sequences is when Lewis and Andrew Keenan-Bolger (a 30-year-old believably playing teenage Jesse) sing “Partner in Crime” near the end of Act I. Keenan-Bolger, popular as Crutchie in the Broadway musical Newsies, can dance and his overall enthusiasm as Jesse is contagious.

The rest of the Tuck family is rounded out with equally impactful performances. Michael Park’s Angus provides Winnie with some much-needed fatherly attention and advice. Carolee Carmello’s Mae is the emotional core and overall protector of the Tuck household. As Jesse’s older brother Miles, Robert Lenzi exemplifies the strength one needs to go on when everlasting life takes away just as much as it gives him. And then, in the anti-Tuck corner, there’s Terrence Mann as the Man in the Yellow Suit who is so good at playing someone so evil that I didn’t know whether to smile or scowl any time he was on stage.

Whimsy and wonder abounds at the Broadhurst Theatre—and maybe a few tears as well—because living forever has a cost, and by the end of Act II, Winnie needs to make a choice. Should she drink from the spring (in six years, of course, when she turns 17 so she can be with Jesse… because this is a family show), or should she grow up and grow old as people are meant to do?

Tuck Everlasting opened April 26th for an open-ended run. Whether this show runs for all eternity or not, it will forever remain in my heart.

Photos courtesy Joan Marcus

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