Review by Casey Curtis
2 May 2016
Tuck Everlasting is a best-selling children’s novel by Natalie Babbitt that questions whether immortality is as desirable as most of us imagine it to be. It has been adapted into a feature film twice and now takes it’s place on Broadway as a musical with music by Chris Miller, lyrics by Nathan Tysen, and a book by Claudia Shear and Tim Federle.
The story centers around an 11 year old girl, Winnie Foster (Sarah Charles Lewis). She has a chance encounter with 17 year old Jessie Tuck (Andrew Keenan Bolger), who, due to having consumed water far more magical than San Pellegrino, is actually decades older than that. He has found in essence, the fountain of youth, and asks Winnie to drink from the same fountain in six years so that they can be forever young 17-year olds together. Along the way, an evil carney wants the health and financial benefits of this H2O and Jessie Tuck’s family shows Winnie the pros and cons of their longevity.
This musical has much to recommend it, but overall it is inconsistent as a work of art. It has charm and poignancy in places, but a corny, dated feel elsewhere. The lead actor Sarah Charles Lewis plays Winnie Foster with yearning and joy, and Andrew Keenan Bolger as Jessie Tuck is spirited and likable. Most notable though is the marvelous comic timing of two secondary characters, Fred Applegate as Constable Joe and Michael Wartella as Hugo. The lyrics by Nathan Tysen were at their best in two comedy songs, “You Can’t Trust a Man,” and “Hugo’s First Case,” but overall, Tuck Everlasting is not a comedy, so while the comedy songs were delightful, they made me wish for more comedy that wasn’t there.
An ineffectual, slow-paced Act 1 is followed by a solid and compelling Act 2 and a charming, emotionally-moving sustained dance sequence that concludes the musical. It’s a shame that the whole show isn’t as good as the second half.
Tuck Everlasting is still a fine work of art for its family show genre. While there are musicals that one might prioritize over it on a limited budget, it is still a worthwhile engaging evening of theater.
"A warm-spirited and piercingly touching musical that has nothing flashy or splashy about it."
Charles Isherwood for New York Times
"Sweetly wholesome but hyperactive new Broadway musical."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"It’s pretty crazy that this story about regret, mortality and big life choices — make that 'eternal life or death' choices — could end up so toothless."
Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post
"I can admire several elements here; they just seem slightly misjudged or misaligned. For all Tuck’s thematic concerns with immortality, I doubt a long life awaits it in this competitive market for Broadway family fare."
David Cote for Time Out New York
"The show that opened Tuesday at the Broadhurst Theatre is wonderfully crafted, a Nicholaw hallmark. Poignancy mixes well with humor, the songs are fresh and sweet, the set is blissful and the performances honest. It has a polished feel. All of the parts work smartly."
Mark Kennedy for Associated Press
"Although the show... boasts solid production values and professionalism thanks to director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw and a cast filled with Broadway veterans, it's likely destined for an all-too-finite life on the Great White Way."
Frank Scheck for Hollywood Reporter
"The show’s warmhearted tale and handsome production values also bode well for a family-centric market, especially on the road. But more jaded theatergoers will likely find the proceedings not so much timeless as time-consuming — a production rooted in the twee of life."
Frank Rizzo for Variety
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