Broadway Run Follows Successful Atlanta Tryout
This past week, Tuck Everlasting began previews at the Broadhurst Theatre. The show is set to open officially on April 26, 2016, and is presently scheduled for an open-ended run. A new musical based on Natalie Babbitt’s 1975 children’s novel of the same time, Tuck Everlasting had its world premiere at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, Georgia in early 2015. Major critics such as The New York Times and Variety flew down for the occasion, and both came back to report that the show is highly enjoyable with strong commercial potential. Charles Isherwood from The New York Times said the show is “already polished,” which is quite a compliment for an out-of-town tryout, especially when many new musicals are criticized for being sloppy even by the time they make it to Broadway. He also loved the ballet sequences, which were once a staple of American theatre, and which now are rarely seen. Frank Rizzo from Variety was also very impressed by the production, beginning his review, “Move over, Matilda and Annie,” presenting Tuck Everlasting as a strong contender for the market that appeals to young girls and baby boomers alike. His only criticisms were that Winnie needs a little more conflict and less sentimentality, and that the lead romance between Winnie and Jesse has an unfulfilling conclusion. It will be interesting to see whether the Broadway production has made any adjustments in response to that feedback.
Tuck Everlasting is directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, who has made quite a name for himself in recent years with such successes as The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, Something Rotten!, Elf, and The Drowsy Chaperone. Nevertheless, the response after the Atlanta production was that this musical showcases a different side of Nicholaw’s creativity, namely, a softer touch. He became known for bold and boisterous comedic movement in some of his earlier productions, but this musical is more delicate and lyrical. Part of this is a response to the score itself, which is an amalgam of traditional Broadway with more folk roots. The music is by Chris Miller and the lyrics are by Nathan Tysen, both of whom are making their Broadway debuts with this show. The book is by Claudia Shear (Dirty Blonde, performer in Dirty Blonde, The Smell of the Kill) and Tim Federle (performer in Billy Elliot: The Musical, The Little Mermaid). The cast stars 11 year-old Sarah Charles Lewis making her Broadway debut as Winnie Foster, as well as Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Newsies the Musical, Mary Poppins) as Jesse Tuck, along with Carolee Carmello (Finding Neverland, Scandalous), Fred Applegate (The Last Ship, Sister Act), Robert Lenzi (South Pacific), Terrence Mann (Finding Neverland, Pippin), Michael Park (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), and Pippa Pearthree (Inherit the Wind, Titanic).
A Story About a Family Locked in Time
The story of Tuck Everlasting concerns the Tuck family, who drank the water from a magical spring that grants eternal life almost a century prior, and has been living on the land in the rural town of Treegap, New Hampshire ever since. Winnie Foster is an 11 year-old girl who is tired of her family and thinking of running away, when she happens to meet Jesse Tuck, an eternal 17 year-old, who is really 104 years old. Not only do they not age, but they also cannot die. Meanwhile, they are pursued by a Man in a Yellow Suit (Terrence Mann), who has been searching for them for years, and who hopes to profit from the magical water that gives eternal youth. The production is delicate and graceful, with gorgeous ballet numbers interspersed throughout the heartwarming and life-affirming tale.