Tuck Everlasting

Broadway Cast, 2016 (DMI Soundtracks) 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) Not much seems worth immortalizing when it comes to the Broadway adaptation of Natalie Babbitt’s beloved 1975 children’s novel Tuck Everlasting, in which eleven-year-old Winnie meets a family blessed (or is it cursed?) with eternal life. What the cast album does partly capture for prosperity is the creative team’s misguided attempt to stretch Babbitt’s compact storytelling into a two-act musical. The score sags especially in the elongated reveries of Mae Tuck (Carolee Carmello), remembering how her husband loved her back in their double-digit days; the scheming vaudeville turns of the evil Man in the Yellow Suit (a much-put-upon Terrence Man), who has come to steal the immortalizing spring water; and the comic detective numbers for Michael Wartella and Fred Applegate. John Clancy’s folk-doused orchestrations do most of the heavy lifting here, with lots of pizzicato plucks and pan-flute toots doing their best to distract from Chris Miller’s often underdeveloped melodies. Nathan Tysen’s lyrics are marred by a forced series of rhymes such as “handbook” / “exactly as planned, look” / “cranny and nook.” Miller and Tysen do succeed dramatically in “The Story of the Tucks,” in which the family members talk over each other trying to tell Winnie their big secret. Although Sarah Charles Lewis as Winnie sounds older than her pre-teen years, and Andrew Keenan-Bolger sings with a boyish charm, the show never resolves the squeamish courtship between a 104-year-old man in a 17-year-old’s body and an 11-year-old girl (“I’ll wait for you / ’Till you turn seventeen,” he sings in the discomfiting act one finale). Also,  the Broadway production’s most-praised sequence, “The Story of Winnie Foster” — a ballet in which Winnie lives a full life and then arrives at a peaceful death in old age — has hardly the same impact without the emotional narrative in the staging. — Dan Rubins