A Theatre Date with Myself

So, I’ve been whittling away at the shows I need to see this season and when Tuck Everlasting came up for the Saturday matinee last weekend, I said why not. I knew it was based on a book (or a movie?) and it had a great cast (Terrance Mann, Carolee Carmello, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, etc). The summary on Playbill did not make it sound enticing though: “When Winnie Foster discovers the magical secret of the Tuck family, she embarks on an extraordinary adventure that will change her life forever.” Snooze. It sounded pretty damn boring. I was already committed though so there was no turning back. I was hooked up by TDF in the fourth row of the mezzanine with a great view. 

Playbill’s elevator pitch was accurate but the story (and show!) was actually a lot more interesting and entertaining than the pitch would let onto. When Winnie runs away, she meets the Tuck family who, 100 years earlier, accidentally drank from a spring in the forest that Winnie’s family owns and they are now immortal. 

Andrew Keenan-Bolgar plays Jesse Tuck, the 17-year-old son of Angus (Michael Park) and Mae (Carolee Carmello) Tuck and brother of Miles (Robert Lenzi). He tells Winnie (the incredible Sarah Charles Lewis) his families secret which is less than ideal for his family. After some conflict, Winnie has to decide whether or not to drink the water that Jesse has given her when she turns 17 and live forever with him.

Terrance Mann plays “Man in the Yellow Suit.” He’s a strange old man that can tell people’s ages by looking into their eyes. You can probably tell what happens and he goes after the Tuck family, though unsuccessfully. Mann has always been one of my favorites and he certainly didn’t disappoint with his supporting role in this show.

I have to say that I really enjoyed it. It was really sad at times and really funny during others. It had a lot of heart and was really heavy. The one thing that bugged me was the ensemble choreography in the first few numbers of the first act. Maybe it was where I was sitting, but it looked so sloppy. It got better from there though.

This entire cast is uniformly strong and meshes really well together.

The buzz is that this show won’t make it past Sunday, which is sad but what can you do? If you’re skeptical about whether or not to see Tuck Everlasting, I’d recommend giving it a shot. It could surprise you the same way it surprised me. 

I’d watched Newsies, the movie, once a few months ago. It was OK. To be honest, I didn’t truly understand the hype, but I still wanted to see the stage version which everyone was going insane over at Papermill last year and now again on Broadway. Newsies is about a group of newsies, the paperboys, form a union after the newspaper publishers unexpectedly and unfairly raise their prices. 

The story is engaging but probably not as much if the cast wasn’t as top-notch. Jeremy Jordan is sexy and charming as the head of the newsies union Jack Kelly, and his love interest and biggest cheerleader Katherine, played by Kara Lindsay, is absolutely lovely and has a beautiful voice. Jon Dossett is evil and conniving as the head of the newspaper with questionable practices, Pulitzer. Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Ben Frankhauser are continuously entertaining as Crutchie and Davey, newsie confidants of Jack Kelly.

It’s very unique for an audience to have such high energy before a show begins. I experienced this only when working at Mamma Mia back in 2008 where every single person, practically, was so excited to be seeing that show. Well, Newsies is also a show like that. The amount of screaming after each song was loud, and at some points almost deafening. It was annoying at first, but in the end, it energized the cast even more and so we, the audience, were given a better performance. 

The set is incredibly simple, but intricate to look at and I’m rendered speechless when trying to find a way to describe it. Newsies is hands-down going to win the TONY Award for Best Choreography. The other nominees can just go home (yes, even though they’ve yet to be announced). The ensemble work their asses off and give 100% in every number. 

I’m not converted to a Newsies groupie by any means, but the show is a lot of fun. And who could say they don’t like looking at Jeremy Jordan for two and a half hours? You’d have to be crazy to not enjoy that.