‘Tuck Everlasting’ Thrills at the Alliance Theatre
“Tuck Everlasting” may not be the type of show you’d expect to like–I sure didn’t– but almost everything about this musical at the Alliance Theatre is fantastic.
Based on the fantasy children’s novel of the same name by Nattalie Babbit, “Tuck Everlasting” reminds us why the fountain of youth is not all it’s cracked up to be and how we and our progeny all come back full circle from where we started. Sounds simple, but it’s not. The characters are rich and complex, and the actors who play them make fantasy believable. Winnie (Sarah Charles Lewis), the 11-year-old who the story revolves around, acts, sings, dances and tumbles so proficiently, you’d think she had come from Broadway. She and an ensemble member, who looks to be at least four years younger (Marco Schittone), both refrain from such stereotypical sing-songy line readings so many child actors are wont to do.
The play opens with a song and dance from a period of more than 100 years ago, featuring the marriage of Mae (Carolee Carmello) and Angus (Michael Park), who claim they hope to gaze into each other’s eyes for evermore. The scene is bold and riveting, and Carmello’s voice and acting shine. This is the moment when I know this show is going to be good.
However, all is not perfect. About mid-way through the first act, the plot slows down, and the story seems to drag for about two songs, but the scenes pick back up before the end of Act 1 and the story never slows down again.
Although all the performers hold their own, the unctuous, slimy character the “Man in the Yellow Suit” (Terrance Mann) is the biggest joy to watch with his surprising moves: offering a limp handshake to the town’s constable (Fred Applegate), a silly, happy dance at the fair and a cock of his fingers as if he’s pulling a trigger on his enemies.
Whether you’ve read the book or seen one of the two films that have been made about it, the “Tuck Everlasting” to experience is the one now playing at the Alliance Theatre.
Walt Spangler’s set puts you right into the woods, where massive trees change from brown to green, and onto a misty lake with a rowboat swirling around it as Angus and Winnie go fishing.
Book by Claudia Shear, music by Chris Miller, lyrics by Nathan Tysen, directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, “Tuck Everlasting” runs through Feb. 22 on the main stage at the Alliance Theatre.
Brad Anderson — Ensemble
Julie Barnes — Ensemble
Brad Bradley — Ensemble
Josh Brook — Ensemble
Deanna Doyle — Ensemble
Shannon Eubanks — Nana
KC Fredericks — Ensemble
Lisa Gajda — Ensemble
Jessica Lee Goldyn — Ensemble
Neil Haskell — Ensemble
Liza Jaine — Betsy Foster
Andrew Keenan-Bolger — Jesse Tuck
Jane Labanz — Ensemble
Robert Lenzi — Miles Tuck
Curtis Schroeger — Ensemble
Ben Silver — Ensemble
Michael Warrella — Hugo