Cache Critic’s Choice is a continuing feature on Cache Valley Daily highlighting local theatrical events and live entertainment.
SMITHFIELD – I’ve always said that the productions by the Four Seasons Theatre Company just keep getting better and better. But its seems unlikely that any of their future shows will surpass the lovely quality of their ongoing staging of the musical “Tuck Everlasting.”
Based on a 1975 children’s book by Natalie Babbitt, “Tuck Everlasting” is a family-friendly fable with a bittersweet message about love and mortality. While there’s nothing particularly flashy about it, this show directed by Jon Rash radiates a gentle charm that warms the hearts of its audiences.
I’ve never understood why this musical only lasted about a month on Broadway back in 2016. The score by Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen ranges from cheerfully light-hearted to absolutely haunting. The graceful choreography is refreshingly based on American folk dancing. The musical’s admittedly simple plot poses existential questions while still being delightfully entertaining. Given those attributes, “Tuck Everlasting” can be a truly memorable theater experience. With the help of a wildly talented cast and crew, Rash has fully capitalized on this musical’s potential.
Young Kayli Checketts plays Winnie, a precocious preteen who runs away from home straight into the arms of the immortal Tuck family. Despite her age, there’s nothing immature or inexperienced about Ms. Checketts’ performance. She has a beautiful singing voice, a nice sense of comic timing and an endearing stage presence.
Ms. Checketts co-stars with Logan Kelley as Jesse Tuck, a 102-year-old man trapped in the body and sensibilities of a 17-year-old boy.
Local favorite Kyle Pyfer, last seen as Adam in the Four Seasons production of “Freaky Friday,” is back as Miles Tuck, an immortal grieving over a failed attempt to lead a normal life.
Melissa Hamilton and Trenton Bateman appear as parents Mae and Angus Tuck, who are having some natural problems keeping the spark of love alive after more than a century of marriage.
These actors portraying the members of the Tuck family handle subtle characterizations with heartfelt sincerity and deliver uniformly excellent vocals.
Four Seasons veteran Clifton Richards is equally watchable as the nefarious Man in the Yellow Suit. Richards’ characterization is delightfully villainous and he joins the show’s ensemble in some of its best production numbers.
Ben Hall and Jaeden Tueller provide laughs and a couple amusing vocal performances as a bumbling constable and his long-suffering protégé.
Jessica Lewis and Afton Whitney round out the show’s leading roles as Winnie’s strait-laced mother and cheeky grandmother respectively.
“Tuck Everlasting” is an intimate musical rather than an extravaganza. The show only has a couple of full-fledged production numbers, which seems a shame given the obvious talents of its ensemble performers. The majority of the musical’s score is solos and duets beautifully performed by the leading characters. The best of those tunes are the solo “Time,” poignantly sung by Pyfer, and the breathtaking duet “The Wheel” performed by Ms. Checketts and Bateman.
The musical’s ensemble, led by Jessica Christensen, provides appropriately stylized dancing and supporting harmonies for several of the production’s songs. But their most memorable contribution to “Tuck Everlasting” comes in the show’s finale, a dazzling ballet sequence that captures the joys of Winnie’s life after she rejects the temptation of immortality.
Thankfully, the artistic aspects of “Tuck Everlasting” are as good as the stage performances. The imaginative set design by Daniel Rash and Nathan Allen creates exactly the right ethereal mood for this production and the lighting effects by Chase Cook are amazing.
Performances of “Tuck Everlasting” will continue at Sky View High School in Smithfield through Mar. 16.