Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
Tuck Everlasting the Musical
Also see Carla's review of A Christmas Carol
Tuck Everlasting began as a beloved mid-grade novel in 1975. In 2016 it premiered as a musical with a book by Claudia Shear and Tim Federle, with music by Chris Miller and lyrics by Nathan Tysen. After opening briefly in Atlanta it moved to Broadway where it closed after 67 total performances. While that's not a great record, the production at MTS directed by Devon Frieder is an impressive display of high-powered song and dance.
The story follows the repressed, fatherless 11-year-old Winnie Foster (Brooke Caperton). Her mother and grandmother have kept Winnie homebound and in black for a full year since Winnie's father died. She doesn't get to wear bright clothes, go out and play, orworst of allgo to the local fair. The closest thing to fun is her time with a toad that wandered into her yard.
In utter frustration, Winnie decides to run away from home. She heads across the street into the woods, which her family owns. There she spies Jesse Tuck (Noah Smith) sitting by a tree, drinking out of a small spring. When Winnie asks if she can also have a drink from the spring, he acts strangely, telling her she can never drink from this spring. It takes a while to drag the reason out of Jesse. It turns out the water makes you eternal. While Jesse looks 17, he's actually many decades older.
Jesse's parents and brotherwho also drank from the spring decades earliersoon show up, and when they find out Winnie knows the family secret, they kidnap her, hoping they can figure out a way to make her keep the secret before returning her to her home the next day. Winnie falls in love with the Tucks' freewheeling ways.
Meanwhile, Winnie's mother and grandmother have enlisted Constable Joe (Art Tedesco) and his goofy deputy Hugo (Walker Stovall) to help find Winnie. The plot gets further complicated when the evil Man in Yellow (Danny McBride) sees an opportunity to capitalize on the spring water by nabbing the family woods in exchange for telling where Winnie has been taken.
In the middle of all this, there's tons of charm to go around. Plus there's a bright swirl of dancing and song. The choreography by director Frieder is wonderful. With nearly a dozen and a half dancers, the stage explodes with energy. Frieder has created a potpourri of dance styles, from jazz and ballet to Irish and Deep South heel slapping. Song and joy spread everywhere.
Frieder has put together an outstanding cast. Standouts include Tedesco as Constable Joe, Smith as Jesse, Jillian Foster as Mae Tuck, and Ron Gallegos as Angus Tuck. Danny McBride, who is always good, is amazing as the Man in Yellow. To cap it all is Caperton as Winnie. She takes her small frame and commands the entire ensemble. A terrific production team supports the fine cast.
The actors perform with clear plastic face masks. These were specifically designed to allow for full singing voice projection (with mics inside the masks), so nothing is muted. The clear plastic allows the audience to see every facial expression. Kudos to Frieder and MTS for a spectacular show.
Tuck Everlasting the Musical runs through January 9, 2022, at the Musical Theatre Southwest Black Box Theatre, 6320 Domingo Rd. NE, Albuquerque NM. General admission is $25. For seniors, students, and ATG members, admission is $23. For information and tickets, please call 505-265-9119 or visit mtsabq.org.