Review: MUSE’s "Tuck Everlasting”
Selecting Tuck Everlasting for the MUSE major was an interesting choice. Based off of Natalie Babbitt's 1975 children's storytime classic, it’s a fairly recent musical - but one without any songs that have entered the mainstream “musical bangers” canon. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop this adaptation from absolutely thriving and delighting every audience member in the York Theatre.
Tuck Everlasting tells the story of 11-year-old Winnie Foster, played by the insanely talented Talia Allen (seriously, scouts keep an eye on this one), who in a fit of rage, runs away from home and stumbles upon Jesse Tuck (Jared Palleson) and his family (played by Jayden Castle, Phoebe Clark, Aidan Kane). After many-a-beautiful ballad later, it is revealed that the Tuck’s are ageless because they have consumed water out of a magic river, causing Winnie to ponder immortality in the youngest existential crisis ever recorded in history.
It’s fitting that an outrageous plot would also house some outrageous characters. Props go to the loveable antagonist, the ‘Man in Yellow Suit’ (Samuel Wilson), who gave the audience so much energy that when his mic stopped working in the opening number, we didn’t even care. Also, the interactions between Constable Joe and Hugo (Jordan Barnes and Christopher Shanko, respectively), gave us a bromance we couldn’t help but root for.
While the script at some points uncomfortably served us some Jacob-grooming-Bella realness, all of the other aspects of the show worked together to make this one a hit. Aside from the tremendous vocal ability displayed by Phoebe Clark and Jayden Castle, what really impressed the audience within the Tuck family, was the dynamic. With familial nuances, you really did believe they had known each other for a hundred years. The same chemistry goes for Christie New and Hannah Gibbins who played Betsy and Nana Foster, respectively. Watching the interactions between family members on stage really made it clear that the rehearsals for this musical were extensive, and it payed off.
The colourful costumes and lighting thrived on the simplistic stage design, painting a world in 1893 in the chicest way possible.
But, the real reason why director Matt Hourigan deserves abundant praise, is for the choreography. Never before have I seen a MUSE show where the ensemble was breathtakingly perfect. Each time the stage was full and my eyes scanned across it, every single person on stage was nailing the rigorous choreography, to the point where I forgave the aggressive heteronormativity in the partnered dancing. For this, shout out to Anastasia Gall, Anna-May Parnell, Artemis Alfonzetti, Brendan McRae, Carmel Rodrigues, Claire Rodrigues, Charlotte Middleton, Cole Zoernleib, Jack Westbury, Jerome Studdy, John Tsakiris, Jordan Delany, Konrad Ryzak, Kristy Hooper, Michael Kauffman, Oliver Roach, Rachel Simmons, Rebecca Caton, Rebecca Wewege, Rosie Rodrigues, Stacey Gay and William Taylor, because they all deserve a mention.
With Tuck Everlasting, MUSE have done it again. Now point me in the direction of this river, please.