TheatreWorks’ holiday show this year, Tuck Everlasting, is an emotional roller coaster that will force you to consider the cycle of life and death in a way that may surprise you. The showtells the story of Winnie Foster and her unusual relationship with the Tuck Family. Based on the 1975 book of the same title by Natalie Babbitt, the musical stays far truer to the source material than the 2002 Disney film.
Eleven-year-old Winnie dreams of adventure outside of her rural hometown of Treegap, New Hampshire. She gets more adventure than she bargained for, however, when she meets Jesse Tuck in the woods. After stopping her from drinking from a mysterious spring, Winnie gradually learns that Jesse and his family are immortal. Almost one hundred years previously, the Tucks drank from the stream and ceased aging. But now that Winnie knows the secret of the spring, will she choose to live forever as well?
The musical is better than I expected it to be. It stays very true to the emotional heart of the story, creating ample opportunities for both laughter and tears. The actors are all superb and the set is very well done. While the music and lyrics are good, they’re not particularly memorable. Still, the production as a whole is fun and moving with big show-stopping numbers and quieter, more emotional moments.
Several of the actors are noteworthy because of their impressive performances. Kristine Reese plays Mae, the matriarch of the Tuck Family. Her performance is thoughtful and grounded, serving as an anchor for the whole show. It is when she opens her mouth to sing, however, that she really blows away the audience. She has a rich and captivating voice that almost manages to steal the show.
Alternating in the lead role of Winnie, Katie Maupin and Natalie Schroeder are wonderful. I had the pleasure of seeing Schroeder the night I saw the show, she easily carried the show along as the lead. I saw Maupin as Mary Lennox last year in [The Secret Garden] and was very impressed by her performance as well.
However, the most impressive performance is from Eddie Grey as Jesse Tuck. This is Grey’s first show in the U.S., having recently moved from Australia, and he is phenomenal. He is equally impressive whether singing, dancing or acting in a dramatic scene. Although every cast member is very good, Grey stands out as someone to watch for in the future.
Tuck Everlasting is a sweet, heartfelt musical that is a wonderful fit for the holiday season. Stuffed full of great performances and moving songs, the show is equally captivating for children and adults.
TheatreWorks’ production of the musical, Tuck Everlasting, is playing November 28 through December 30, 2018. The show runs about two and a half hours with one intermission at the Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Tickets range from $40-$100 with discounts available for educators, seniors, groups, active military and patrons under 35.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Berne