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"Tuck Everlasting" - The Musical, at the Broadhurst Theatre

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Tuck Everlasting - The Musical
(Tuck Everlasting Website)

Book by Claudia Shear & Tim Federle
Music by Chris Miller
Lyrics by Nathan Tysen

Based on the novel Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Carolee Carmello, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Michael Park
Robert Lenzi, Michael Wartella, Valerie Wright, Pippa Pearthree
Fred Applegate, Terrence Mann, Sarah Charles Lewis

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Directed & Choreographed by Casey Nicholaw
Orchestrations by John Clancy
Music Director: Mary-Mitchell Campbell

At the
Broadhurst Theatre
235 West 44th Street

Scenic Design: Walt Spangler
Costume Design: Gregg Barnes
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner
Sound Design: Brian Ronan
Hair Design: Josh Marquette
Makeup Design: Milagros Medina-Cerdeira
Casting: Telsey + Company / Bethany Knox, CSA
Music Supervisors: Rob Berman / Mary-Mitchell Campbell
Vocal Arrangements: Chris Miller
Dance Music Arrangements: David Chase
Music Coordinator: Antoine Silverman
Production Stage Manager: Holly R. Coombs
Advertising: Serino / Coyne
Marketing Direction: Type A Marketing
Press Representative: Matt Ross Public Relations
Executive Producer: Sara Skolnick
Production Management: Juniper Street Productions
General Management: Foresight Theatrical
Company Manager: Thom Clay

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 13, 2016

What a pleasant surprise was Tuck Everlasting, the Musical. I had not seen the Disney film, and I wasn’t aware of the plot. A sense of wonder and magic and innocence wrapped the evening, within a dream-like set of a giant tree that forms a home in the air, to which young characters climb to transcend their endless or natural lives. The endless lives belong to the Tuck family, all well over 100 years old chronologically, but they will never die. In the early days of the 1800’s, mother, Mae Tuck (Carolee Carmello), father, Angus Tuck (Michael Park), teen brother, Jesse Tuck (Andrew Keenan-Bolger), and older brother, Miles Tuck (Robert Lenzi), all drank fresh spring water from the mystical, winding onstage tree, in a mysterious town. Now they are back, seven to eight decades later in one of their family reunions, at the spot where their destiny was drawn. Across this town, a visiting carnival parades through the streets, led by a tall, brash carnival barker (Terrence Mann). That parade goes right past the picture-book, Foster home, where 11 year-old Winnie (Sarah Charles Lewis), her mother, (Valerie Wright), and grandmother, Nana (Pippa Pearthree) are still mourning the death of Winnie’s father. Winnie is not allowed to attend the carnival, but when her pet frog leaps outside her picket fence, Winnie dashes after it. She arrives at the same fresh spring, where Jesse Tuck is again sipping its water. The Tucks have recently returned, as they usually travel in twos, to avoid suspicion. Their secret is guarded obsessively, so the townspeople won’t fight to drink and sell the magical water.

After Winnie begins her adventure with the Tucks, who first kidnap her, to prevent their presence and the location of the spring from being known, she falls for Jesse, who decides he can wait for her to grow to his age, when hopefully she’ll drink a flask of spring water, so they can be forever together. During Winnie’s days with the Tucks in the tree home and hidden abode, they all bond as friendly conspirators. She even gets to go to the carnival with Jesse, where the barker, that tall flashy man, makes the Fosters and Tucks his targets, in a subplot to steal and sell that spring water. On his trail are two comical crook-hunters, Constable Joe (Fred Applegate) and his assistant, Hugo (Michael Wartella). The chase is mostly good-natured and fun, even with some predictable death-to-the-finish plot devices, to keep the hero and heroine safe. The winding story, taken from Natalie Babbitt’s children’s book, waxes philosophical, about whether life should never end or whether life should proceed toward its rewards, tribulations, and ultimate fate. At the musical’s finale, a dramatic ballet languorously unfolds, with the Fosters revealing their future destinies, generation by generation. The style is quasi Agnes de Mille, a lyrical, early American, heartland motif, with wide outstretched arms and rhythmic refrains.

Ms. Lewis is actually 11 years old, as is her character, and her robust, confident stage presence signal that she’s a star in the making. Her vocals are brightly tonal and strong, with her dialogue presented with impressive maturity. Ms. Wright, as her mother, exudes cold restraint and inner torment, as she maintains the family’s reputation as one in mourning. Ms. Pearthree, as Nana, is more nurturing, empathetic, all knowing. As Mae, Ms. Carmello sings with deep resonance and soulfulness, as always. Here, as an intrinsic and stoic member of a very unusual family, she glows. As her husband, Angus, Mr. Park shows versatility as a sleeping-in kind of Dad, soon to be energized, rowing a boat and leading his family. As sons, Miles and Jesse, Mr. Lenzi is more the silent center of the brood, while Mr. Keenan-Bolger plays a showcased role, wooing Winnie and waiting for her to grow into the woman he dreams of, once she drinks spring water, to be forever frozen at 17. As the Man in the Yellow Suit, the carnival barker, Mr. Mann, is snakelike, slithering about, looking for greedy scams. Yet, his high-kicking struts, especially in the choreographed carnival scene, are astounding. Mr. Applegate, as Constable Joe, is endearing and a treat, while Mr. Wartella is equally a bumpkin-type detective, but together they offer vaudevillian wit. Lisa Gajda and Jessica Lee Goldyn, as Carnival Girls, were quite eye-catching during that lively scene.

Claudia Shear and Tim Federle’s book is cohesive, cogent, and charming. Chris Miller’s music and Nathan Tysen’s lyrics are not those you’ll be humming for hours, but rather those that will be spellbinding in the moment. Walt Spangler’s scenic design is surreal, a winding, leafy tree that never ends, like the fate of those who drink from its spring, a storybook home with picket fence and hydrangeas, and a carnival tent with popcorn and cotton candy carts. Gregg Barnes’ costumes are mostly country green-blues and browns, blending with the picturesque scenes. Kenneth Posner’s lighting is bright at the Foster home and warmly mystical in the forest, while Brian Ronan’s sound sends the dramatic ballet music across the Broadhurst Theatre. John Clancy’s orchestrations have rhythmic punctuation and pulse, and Casey Nicholaw’s direction and choreography result in poignancy and vibrancy throughout. Kudos to Natalie Babbitt for the inspirational book.

Sarah Charles Lewis in "TUCK EVERLASTING"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Sarah Charles Lewis
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Carolee Carmello and Michael Park
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Terrence Mann and the cast of "TUCK EVERLASTING"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at