Meet the Tucks. A family that once drank water from a secret stream in Treegap, New Hampshire circa 1800 that made them immortal. To sip or not to sip?
That is the question facing a bored and precocious eleven year old Winnie Foster (Sarah Charles Lewis – making an impressive Broadway debut) as this most imaginative and magical new musical TUCK EVERLASTING unfolds at the Broadhurst Theatre on a beautiful set designed by Walt Spangler.
It’s a bit FINDING NEVERLAND, a bit THE SECRET GARDEN and a bit PIPPIN. With a lot of charm and unexpected humor supplied by book writers Claudia Shear & Tim Federle (Better Nate than Ever – read this one! It is hysterical) and Celtic inspired tunes by Chris Miller and lyrics by Nathan Tysen. Their “Story of the Tucks” is the best song of a rather unexceptional score.
Having just lost her dad Winnie is lonely and seeks adventure. Her only friend is a frisky frog. Winnie is smart and sassy and prone to asking lots of questions. So she runs off into the woods owned by her family where she meets Jesse Tuck (a delightful Andrew Keenan-Bolger) – the lonely seventeen year old son of Mae (Carolee Carmello) and Angus (Michael Park). Actually he is 102.
They become friends and the adventure of a lifetime for Winnie begins when she is kidnapped by the Tucks and brought home as they try to figure out what to do with her as she now knows about the magical water and its power. Jesse wants her to wait until she is seventeen to take a “sip of forever” so that they can grow ageless together.
The Tucks are having a family reunion of sorts having not been together for ten years. Older brother Miles (Robert Lenzi) wants them to remain as inconspicuous as possible as they never age and people do gossip.
Enter the villain. Man in the Yellow Suit (a suitable Terrance Mann) who seeks to find Winnie, and the secret stream so that he can sell the water before Constable Joe (Fred Applegate) and his sidekick detective Hugo (an excellent Michael Wartella) solve their first missing person case.
But not before a visit to the Fair. Giving director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw ample opportunity to spread his wings.
Mr. Nicholaw now has four shows on Broadway. That says a lot right there. But he keeps the best for last in his “Circle of Life” inspired folk ballet that ends this fine production that might confuse the younger members of the audience but is nonetheless the cherry on top.
Kudos to Brian Ronan – sound designer. Thank you for making it possible to understand everything spoken and sung.
Based on the classic 1975 novel by Natalie Babbitt that I look forward to reading.
Life is an adventure – enjoy it with each and every wart along the way.
Photos: Joan Marcus
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