Tuck Everlasting was a childhood book and movie that I held very dear to my heart growing up. Jesse Tuck was my first ever literary crush, and once was portrayed on film by the young Jonathan Jackson, my crush continued with the new version of the story. The book, originally written in 1975 is still read today in elementary and middle school curriculi highlighting the ideas of love, family, and immortality in a bildungsroman for the young, privileged Winnie Foster who need not leave too far from her backyard to discover a very different world than the one she knows. This story is opening as a musical on Broadway previewing on March 31st starring Andrew Keenan Bolger and Carolee Carmello.
Winnifred Foster is sick of being cooped up by her mother. Between piano lessons, corsets, and ridicule on what is “proper” for young ladies, she wishes to escape and be free. One day, she runs into the woods behind her house and discovers a boy drinking from a spring. He warns her not to drink the water and forcibly takes her back to his house in the woods with his mother Mae Tuck and brother Miles. The family tells her that the spring gave their family immortality and that they have lived for a whole century in their youthful states. She also learns that they are being pursued by “The Man in the Yellow Suit” who wishes to discover the secret to their long-lasting life. She stays with the family, learns from them, and helps them in their journeys to escape the people hunting them. In the end, she must choose whether to drink the water and become immortal or live out her natural life.
The Film: A Two-Star Flop
The story was portrayed for the first time on film in 2002 starring the then Gilmore Girls star, Alexis Bledel. She portrays a much older character than the one intended for the book, clearly so the audience can see a love story between Winnie and Jesse Foster. In rewatching the film as an adult, I became very surprised at the jagged quality of the plotline! As a child, I had not remembered the awkward ways at which Winnie becomes friends with everyone. Though it is a fantastical romance film, the characters lack realness in their actions and leave the audience asking many questions about the Tuck family motivations. Roger Ebert described the people in this film by gender: “…the women are plucky and the men are either sinister or inessential, unless they are cute teenage boys, of course” (rogerebert.com).
One can only hope that this musical version will continue on with the magical quality of these characters and forget the jaggedness of the characters in the film. Bolger will be portraying Jesse Tuck and Carmello will be playing the role of Mae Tuck now that her role as the mother in Finding Neverland is over. There is another musical whose book followed closely to a flawed screen book and suffered greatly in the 2014 Tony Award ceremony.
Follow Tuck Everlasting on their Broadway website opening with previews March 31st at the Broadhurst Theatre located between Broadway and 8th Avenue. Opening night is set for April 26th and we’ve got our fingers crossed that this next literary-based musical hits above and beyond our expectations for this children’s book favorite!