In March 2020, like so many community, regional and professional theaters, the Chatham Community Players closed its doors while rehearsing their upcoming production, Tuck Everlasting.
Yet, even though, the Chatham Playhouse was dark, the intrepid actors and production staff never lost hope that the curtain would rise on this show.
Well, that loyalty was well placed as, on Friday, March 4, 2022, Conductor Lois Buesser tapped her baton, the 7-piece ensemble struck up a sprightly tune, and a fetching group of dancers twirled around the stage (above, left) to open this charming piece of musical theater.
Adapted from Natalie Babbitt’s children’s book by Claudia Shear and Tim Federle, Tuck Everlasting tells the story of the Tuck family who drink water from a magical spring and become immortal. When they encounter Winnie Foster, a young girl who lives in their rural New England town of Treetop, NJ, she becomes friends with one of the sons, Jesse, who soon offers her the secret to everlasting life. She then must decide whether to join her new friends in immortality or live out her normal life as a mortal, eventually to die.
Jeffrey Fiorello’s inspired direction moves the large ensemble of 13 dancer/singers around the playhouse’s modest acting space and elicits marvelous performances from the 10-actor cast.
she’s spelled by Jayden Declet at other performances. She seems very comfortable onstage and is convincing as a young girl on the cusp of puberty, who runs away from her repressive/depressive widowed mother Betsy (Susie Paplow) and her indulgent Nana (Pat Powers Wry) because they won’t let her attend the fair that’s just come to town. She’s matched by Corey Chichizola (right) as Jesse Tuck, who’s really 104 years old but says he’s 17; he, too, conveys the earnest impulsiveness of a teenager smitten by a young girl and willing to spill the beans on the secret he and his family have been living and hiding for almost a century. Both these young actors have excellent voices and dance very well.
Armed with the vial of magic water Jesse has given her to drink when she turns 17, Winnie is forced to make a decision: to drink it and join Jesse and the Tucks or live a normal, mortal life. Well, you’ll just have to see the play to find out.
Tuck Everlasting is a marvelous paean to the magic of theater to transport us away from the news of masks, vaccines and war, if even for two and a half hours. Grab the kids and get on over to the Chatham Playhouse, 23 N. Passaic Ave., Chatham, before the show closes on March 12!
Tuck Everlasting will be performed March 11 and 12 at 8 PM, and March 12 at 3 PM. For information and tickets, call 973-635-7363 or visit www.chathamplayers.org online.