By Paul Atreides
Author, playwright Theatre critic at EatMoreArtVegas.com
Escape into Family Fantasy
Tuck Everlasting, The Musical is Las Vegas Little Theatre’s (LVLT) Summer offering and a treat the whole family can enjoy. Based on the beloved 1975 children’s fantasy novel by Natalie Babbitt, the stage version hit Broadway in 2016, years after it was adapted for the big screen. Brought to the stage with a book by Claudia Shear (Dirty Blonde) and Tim Ederle (the High School Musical series), music by Chris Miller and lyrics by Nathan Tysen, it received some decent reviews yet lasted only 67 performances.
The story poses the question many have pondered: If you could live forever, would you?
Winnie Foster (Courtney Ellyce Wilcox) runs away and stumbles upon Jesse Tuck (Trenton Klinkefus), drinking from a magical spring that has given the entire Tuck family immortality. Jesse (age 17) wants Winnie (age 11) to wait six years before drinking the water so they will be the same age forever. The duo both bring energetic fun and a sense of sincerity to their roles.
Though he does carry the same sense of villainy of a Roald Dahl character, there is a ne’re-do-well in the form of Man in the Yellow Suit (Glenn Heath) to put a monkey wrench in their plans. Heath brings a great Snively Whiplash quality to the role, especially during the song “Ev’rything’s Golden.” Then there are Tuck’s parents, Angus (Michael Kaczurak) and Mae (Melissa Reizler), who try to explain that eternal life may not be so wonderful.
In the mix for comedic relief are Constable Joe (Greg Korin) and Hugo (Will Haley) who manage to get the most laughs, not only due to the dialogue but their portrayals. Neither is afraid of going a bit over the top.
Backed by a large ensemble the whole is a satisfying mix of schmaltz. The true payoff of the show is the final scene. With no lyrics and no dialogue, it’s a ballet that takes us through the years and reveals Winnie’s decision. Nope, I will not give it away.
Ron Lindblom’s set is a stunning woodland with a tree capable of climbing created by Leo Limuaco, and pieces rolling in for cabins, all lit beautifully by Ginny Adams. Julie Horton and Abby Stroot add costumes to necessary rented pieces.
Though the script itself is lacking, it’s still a great choice for a bit of family Summer entertainment. As directed by Walter Niejadlik, this is a satisfying production because it does not miss a step and does not get maudlin in the telling. It’s a terrific way to escape the record Las Vegas heat and immerse yourself in a cool fantasy.
The production is dedicated to Leo Limuaco who, days before opening night, passed away very unexpectedly. Over the years Leo was an actor, technician, set builder, spot operator, and usher. But most of all a true friend, always with a smile and kind words. He will be greatly missed by his theatre family and live forever in our hearts.
What: Tuck Everlasting, The Musical
When: 8 p.m. Friday to Saturday; 2 p.m. Sundays through July 30
2 p.m. Saturday, July 22
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre - Mainstage, 3920 Schiff Drive
Tickets: $30 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)
Grade: **** Delicious
Producer: Las Vegas Little Theatre; Director: Walter Niejadlik; Choreography: Hallie Lyons; Set Design: Ron Lindblom; Lighting Design: Ginny Adams; Costumes: Julie Horton, Abby Stroot; Sound: Mike Olsen, Lisa Tollefson, Ernest Medina; Stage Manager: Jim Braun