Musical Based on Natalie Babbitt’s Children’s Novel
This past week, Tuck Everlasting opened at the Broadhurst Theatre. The show had been running in previews since March 31, 2016. This new musical is based on a children’s novel of the same name by Natalie Babbitt, which was published in 1975. Subsequently, the novel was turned into two films, the first in 1981, and the second in 2001 in a production by Disney. In January 2015, the stage musical of Tuck Everlasting had its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, Something Rotten!). The show has a book by Claudia Shear (Dirty Blonde, performer in The Smell of the Kill) and Tim Federle (performer in Billy Elliot: The Musical, The Little Mermaid), with music by Chris Miller and lyrics by Nathan Tysen. This production stars Carolee Carmello (Finding Neverland, Scandalous) as Mae Tuck, Michael Park (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) as Angus Tuck, Robert Lenzi (South Pacific) as Miles Tuck, Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Newsies, Mary Poppins) as Jesse Tuck, Fred Applegate (The Last Ship, Sister Act) as Constable Joe, and newcomer Sarah Charles Lewis as Winnie Foster.
Charles Isherwood from The New York Times gushed about Tuck Everlasting, refreshed by the non-flashy nature of this family-friendly musical. He enjoyed how the show is a variation on the fountain of youth myth, and relished in Casey Nicholaw’s emotionally sensitive direction and choreography. Others were less enthused. David Cote from Time Out New York found the musical to be engaging, yet also remarked on the “ick factor” of the premise, wherein an 102 year-old man in a 17 year-old boy’s body convinces an 11 year-old girl to wait until she is of legal age and then drink from the magical spring to be his eternal lover. Frank Scheck from the Hollywood Reporter found the production value to be solid, he felt that it doesn’t stand a chance in competing with the flashier musicals such as Wicked and Matilda. Melissa Rose Bernardo from Entertainment Weekly called the show “lackluster,” remarking that the source material is beautifully drawn and evocative, but that on stage the show remains unimpressive. Of all the major critics, Jeremy Gerard from Deadline found the show to be the most despicable, calling it “treacly” and explaining how it may cause you to leave the theatre wanting to kick a puppy.
Unimpressive Box Office May Bode Badly for the Show’s Longevity
While the subject matter of Tuck Everlasting deals with immortality, judging by its box office figures, the musical may have an unfortunately mortal existence. In the last reported week of box office, the week ending May 1, 2016, the show brought in $340,152, which represents 30.58% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $223.00, the average paid admission was $47.26, and the audience was filled up to an average of 77.5% of its capacity. Thus far in the run, the average percentage reached of gross potential was 36.54%, and the average paid admission was $49.46. Therefore, with these mediocre reviews, the show does not look likely to remain on Broadway for a lot longer. The show was also only nominated for one Tony Award, that for Best Costume Design of a Musical for Gregg Barnes, and thus the awards season is not likely to give the box office much of a boost either.
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