Large-scale, family-friendly musical theater returns to the North Bay with the Spreckels Theatre Company’s production of Tuck Everlasting.
The stage adaptation of Natalie Babbitt’s 1975 children’s novel about immortality had a very brief life on Broadway in 2016. If the Spreckels production—running in Rohnert Park through May 21—is any indication, the show should find great favor among regional and community theater audiences.
Purists of the Babbitt original may take issue with some of the changes made by Claudia Shear and Tim Federle to the book, but the heart of the story is still there.
Plucky young Winnie Foster (Molly Belle Hart) runs away from home and comes across a boy (Nico Alva) who, with his family (Tika Moon, Larry Williams, Samuel J. Gleason), harbors a secret. A villainous carnival barker (Tim Setzer) pursues the family and their secret while an earnest constable (Chris Schloemp) and his hapless deputy (Chase Thompson) pursue Winnie. Trouble ensues.
While the cast’s stage veterans perform strongly, a show like this sinks or swims on the talent of its young leads. Thankfully, director Emily Cornelius has two very talented performers at the helm.
The simply outstanding Hart finds the right balance of charm and rebelliousness for her character, and possesses a terrific singing voice. She is matched well with the personable Alva. In supporting roles, Gleason continues to demonstrate why he’s one of the best young performers working on North Bay stages today while Thompson also scores as the junior deputy.
The large ensemble shines throughout the show, principally in choreography that was a collaborative effort between Cornelius, Karen Miles and the cast. Dancing and movement are a very strong part of this production, culminating in a 10-minute ballet representing the entirety of Winnie’s life that may go a little over the head of younger audience members.
An on-stage, 10-piece orchestra under the leadership of music director Janis Dunson Wilson deftly handles Chris Miller’s score, and the set design by Eddy Hansen and Elizabeth Bazzano works well in conjunction with an effective use of projections by Chris Schloemp in transporting the audience to rural 19th-century New Hampshire. Costume designer Donnie Frank has dressed the cast well and come up with a helluva yellow suit.
Tuck Everlasting is a great show by which to introduce the wonder and joy of live theater to younger audiences that should keep more seasoned theater-goers engaged as well.
“Tuck Everlasting” runs through May 21 in the Codding Theater at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center, 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. Thur–Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 2pm. Tickets $12–$36. 707.588.3400. spreckelsonline.com