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‘Tuck Everlasting’ will not be everlasting at this rate

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by Isabel Olson

Tuck Everlasting, is known across the world as a great and timeless work of literature and film, but now the story has been transformed into a musical. Through the Alliance Theatre’s production of Tuck Everlasting, the story has the ability to live forever not only as a book or movie but as a musical. This show premiered at the Alliance on Jan. 21, and will continue its run until Feb. 22. The cast and creative team was made up almost entirely of Broadway actors and actresses as well as Tony-Award winners and nominees including the director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw.

The tale revolves around 11-year old Winnie Foster. As a young girl, Winnie  grows tired of staying inside the gates of her home, so she runs away to have her own adventure. Meeting a mysterious family in the woods who drank from a spring many years ago and now are immortal, Winnie finds herself on more of an adventure than she expected. With immortality a sip away, Winnie must ask herself the question the audience is asking as well: if you could live forever, would you?

The individual actors performed admirably, but in the end, the performances could not save the show. No matter how strong each performance was, I couldn’t help but think that Tuck didn’t seem like a story meant to be told through song. The adaptation stayed strong in book and even stronger in dance, but every time a song played the show fell flat. Chris Miller (music), and Nathan Tysen (lyrics), composed relevant but mediocre songs that generally blended into each other. There were songs that did not offer anything exciting or surprising to the audience. While this lack of vitality is partially due to it being a simplistic show, there is work to be done before displaying it again. With a more than capable cast, the songs did little justice to their ability. Another problem with the music was the lyrics which were almost too relevant to the plot, had little ring, and didn’t add much to the story that wasn’t already there. The music would be difficult and rather unpleasant to listen to outside of watching the show.

I was not expecting dance to play such a large role in the performance. While the show was steady and solid throughout, it didn’t take off until the last 10 minutes when the remainder of the story was told only through dance. Just thinking about life, death, and all the time in between can really bring tears to one’s eyes, but watching an entire woman’s life pass before her in a matter of minutes and only through movement, was breathtaking. It left the audie

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nce stunned and certainly contemplating a deeper meaning of not only the show, but the world we live in. Deanna Doyle stole the show through her few minutes of graceful dancing at the end; although she was just an ensemble member, she completely glowed and took the tale to a whole new level. This transformation through dance stood out because it was simply better than the rest of the show, making me wish the show were entirely ballet and contemporary.

Several actors and actresses stood out in their performances whether minor or large. Terrence Mann, the Man in the Yellow Suit, never fails to entertain an audience, and he certainly did in this show. Everything in his mannerisms, jigs- even his bizarre yellow outfit – made you hate the character but love the actor. Robert Lenzi (Miles Tuck), Shannon Eubanks (Nana) and Liza Jaine (Betsy Foster) gave to the audience in their roles as well.

Premiering in a small theater like the Alliance allowed Tuck Everlasting to engage the audience more easily.The depth of this engagement was primarily achieved through the brilliant set design. From the moment one entered the theater to the time one left, it was as if you were right beside Winnie Foster through each step of her journey. The set design by Walt Spangler, made the story come alive even on a small scale. It was as if the pictures in the book, Tuck Everlasting, jumped off the page and came to life.

If this show wants to go beyond the community theater and hit a bigger stage, they will have to make several essential changes. No matter how many improvements they make, however, nothing can alter the fact that the show doesn’t target a specific audience, and in this show’s sense, only harm comes from the lack of clearly defined audience. The theme of life and death is rather deep for children, but the main character is a little girl making it slightly less appealing to adults. While this incongruity may end being bad for ticket sales and popularity, it does mean the show’s message transfers differently to each audience member and can teach the valuable lesson of knowing you live with limited years ahead.

 

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‘Tuck Everlasting’ will not be everlasting at this rate